Police Abuse: 5 years, 30 000 complaints and only 1.3 percent criminal conviction rate, says DA
Cape Town - Abuse by South African Police Service officers and the low rate of convictions is a national disgrace, the DA said.
Last week, the ANC launched a campaign against police brutality. This, while between 2018 and 2019 almost 6000 South Africans suffered police brutality under the ANC-controlled SAPS, DA shadow minister of police Andrew Whitfield said in a statement.
"This is exactly the same hypocrisy that we see from the ANC when they make bold statements about combatting corruption and graft while their cadres remain the biggest plunderers of state funds," he said.
While the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown had seen an increase in complaints in police abuse fuelled by Police Minister Bheki Cele’s "reckless comments and a state drunk on power", police abuse was nothing new to South Africa.
During the lockdown, between March 26 and April 17, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) reported a shocking 30 percent increase in complaints of police abuse over the same period in 2019.
The DA had done an analysis on the past five years of complaints of police abuse referred to Ipid. This analysis had exposed "a deeply entrenched culture of state-sanctioned violence due a lack of accountability and consequence for police abuse and brutality", Whitfield said.
The most prevalent complaints received by Ipid included deaths in police custody, deaths as a result of police action, complaints of discharge of an official firearm, rape by a police officer, rape while in police custody, torture, and assault.
The total number of complaints received by Ipid in terms of sections 28 and 29 of the Ipid Act over the past five years was 29,892. Of these, 27.7 percent were referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for criminal recommendations; 25.8 percent constituted disciplinary recommendations made to SAPS; and only 3.9 percent led to disciplinary convictions and only 1.3 percent led to criminal convictions, he said.
The DA had long believed there was an urgent need to demilitarise the SAPS and strengthen the independence and capacity of Ipid. "This is why the DA wants the nomination process for an Ipid head to be independent from the police minister and why we have been fighting for the portfolio committee [on police] to draft a committee bill to this effect.
"The past week, the chairperson agreed to get legal advice and research on the matter, after which the committee will consider a committee bill. We will continue to put pressure on the chair to speed up this process before a new head is appointed by the minister.
"The suffocating violence of the state must come to an end. President [Cyril] Ramaphosa must remove minister Bheki Cele’s jackboot from the throats of the people," Whitfield said.
African News Agency (ANA)