KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi has spoken out against police officers doing grocery shopping in full uniform, saying that such behaviour is not accepted in his ranks and called on the community to take pictures of the offending officers and report them.
The remarks, made at a recent meeting with Community Policing Forum (CPF) bodies elicited murmurs and giggles from those in attendance.
Mkhwanazi, who has garnered a reputation for his no-nonsense approach to policing in KZN police circles, told the gathering of civilians and police officers that the behaviour of the men and women in blue was paramount.
“A typical behaviour is that policemen are not supposed to go shopping in uniform, including these generals. If you find them at Woolies, you find them at Shoprite, if you find them at Pick’n Pay dressed in uniform, take a picture of that person and report to it us,” he said.
Another example of where he wanted CPFs and the citizens to actively be on the watch for, was marked police vehicles that were out of their policing precinct.
“(If there is) a police vehicle, if it is marked in the name of a police station and it is an area that is not in that policing area, take a picture of that vehicle and send it to us. Because we deliberately buy these cars and give it to a police station. If there is a Durban Central Police Station vehicle, it means it is confined to work in Durban Central, but if it leaves, there must be an authority,” Mkhwanazi said.
He added: “We must be able to have answers (as to why that vehicle is out of the area) and say, ‘no, no, this vehicle is authorised to leave the policing precinct because he is doing his job’”.
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Unethical police behaviour is often in the spotlight in South Africa.
In its 2023/24 performance plan, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) had a total of 14,063 active cases against police officers, 77% of which were backlog cases and 3,212 were lodged between April 1, 2022 and February 14 this year.
With most South Africans now carrying a cellphone that has recording capabilities, incidents of unethical behaviour of policemen are growing in frequency.
The most recent and high profile example was when four presidential protection unit officers, assigned to Deputy President Paul Mashatile were caught on camera kicking and stomping on motorists and his passengers on the N1 in Johannesburg.
Recently, the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department has clamped down City of Ekurhuleni officials using municipal vehicles for personal business or errands. Many staff members have been found misusing state cars, and the vehicles have been seized.