The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is inundated with outstanding cases, the directorate’s national head of investigations Matthews Sesoko said on Wednesday.
Sesoko was testifying before the Moerane Commission which is investigating political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ipid appeared before the commission to respond to allegations that its KwaZulu-Natal team was “dysfunctional” and unable to solve cases of police officers who were colluding in various crimes. Such alleged crimes include supplying firearms which were then used to commit murders at Glebelands Hostel in Umlazi.
Ipid executive director Robert McBride was present, although he did not testify but assisted Sesoko with information.
Sesoko said since the directorate was established in 2012 to replace the defunct Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) it has been experiencing challenges because of an insufficient budget and a lack of investigating officers.
“This has been a problem, and it had been raised at different forums such as the portfolio committee on police and treasury and at Scopa (Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts),” he said.
He said police Minister Fikile Mbalula had acknowledged the problem and promised to intervene.
He said Ipid recently went to Britain on a fact finding mission to see how similar bodies operate there.
Sesoko said KwaZulu-Natal has only two investigators, operating in Durban and Empangeni in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. He said as a result of the lack of funding, the Empangeni office would be shut down in the next few months. He said the two officers have to travel all over the province conducting investigations and also appear in various courts to testify.
Sesoko was responding to Ipid ethics manager Amar Maharaj who told the commission in August that corruption and a lack of discipline within the organisation had rendered it dysfunctional.
Maharaj had told the commission that Ipid’s mission was to “to kill (investigation) files”.
Sesoko said Maharaj would be facing disciplinary action for appearing before the commission without the permission of the Ipid management.
“We confirm that there are issues in the KZN offices that need to be addressed, but it is wrong to characterise the office as being dysfunctional,” he said.
He said the organisation had chosen to save its resources by prioritising cases of murder, corruption and rape against police officers.
One of the commissioners, Advocate Vasu Gounden, said Ipid had to answer for itself before the commission because Maharaj had painted a picture of a country “where I as a citizen cannot even rely on police to protect me, and cannot rely on the Ipid to investigate the police.”