Cracking down on police inaction and lack of service delivery
By Hlulani Mashaba, Acting Deputy Director: Media Relations, Gauteng Department of Community Safety
The police’s lack of humanity and consideration for the members of the public whom it serves has become worrisome. South Africa has seen a rise in the number of police brutality cases in recent times. This comes at the backdrop of the National Disaster Management Act which came into effect since the 27 March 2020 to date as per President Cyril Ramaphosa’s effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
There have been various disturbing reports of alleged abuse by the police perpetrated against members of the public. According to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), over 49 cases were investigated over the alleged police abuse against members of the public. These cases were reported in the first two months since the inception of the national lockdown. These cases include the alleged murder and torture of civilians at the hands of police.
A case in point is that of the death of a 40 year old Collins Khosa, a resident of Alexandra township in Johannesburg who was tortured and abused by the police leading to his untimely death. Khoza’s family were left reeling in shock and disbelief during a dire time of economic distress, the Covid-19 pandemic.
These misfortunes form part of the growing incidents of brutality which contributed to many civilians losing faith in the police service. Social media platforms have also been flooded with a constant circulation of videos of police and army personnel instructing community members to perform ‘frog jumps’ and rolling on the field for failure to comply with Covid-19 lockdown regulations have been questioned.
With various social media users raising their concerns on whether law enforcement officers were familiar with their assignments.
Meanwhile, the recent fatal shooting of Mthokozisi Ntumba on the 10 March 2020, outside the Wits University’s Braamfontein Campus during a student protest, raised eyebrows over the South African Police Service’s capacity to take accountability for their actions.
Furthermore, the alleged shooting has severely damaged an already tainted image of the police service towards public order management. The department will continue to work hand in glove with the South African Police Service and the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) to address cases and allegations of police brutality.
The Gauteng Department of Community Safety is empowered by section 206 (3) (a-d) of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Act 2 of 2011 to perform oversight function over the South African Police Service in the Province.
The department continues to encourage members of the public to make use of its police complaints management system. The complaints management system aims to give victims an opportunity to report any act of unprofessional conduct, poor service delivery, abuse of power and police inaction amongst others. This enables the department to monitor police’s conduct and oversee their efficiency in carrying out their duties.
Police Services are the primary entry point into the criminal justice system, therefore poor service delivery by police discourages citizens from reporting crime and negatively impacts the execution of justice. As part of our oversight mandate, the Department of Community Safety will conduct exit surveys at police stations and customer satisfaction surveys on policing in Gauteng through social media and other platforms.
The department is duty-bound to investigate and recommend remedial actions on any complaint received from members of the public regarding poor police service, fraud and corruption at any of the police stations in the province.
Proactive measures such as covert operations and integrity tests have been undertaken in the past resulting in unscrupulous police officers discharged from the service for abusing their powers and undermining the objectives of the police service.
During the 2019/20 financial year, the department has received and investigated 288 complaints. Of the 288 complaints received 107 (37%) related to poor service delivery, 81 (28%) to poor investigation, 67 (23%) to poor communication, 26 (9%) to unprofessional conduct and 7 (3%) to miscellaneous complaints.
Members of the public are urged to report poor police service on 011 689 3607 or SMS/ WhatsApp to this number 071 853 1306. Alternatively, they can direct their complaints to [email protected] or visit www.impacc.gpg.gov.za.
Meanwhile police corruption can also be reported to the police on 10111 and anonymously to the Anti-Corruption Hotline on 0800 701 701. The department which currently monitors over 155 police stations across the province continuously call on members of the community to bear in mind that all police stations have a responsibility to maintain a climate of professionalism within its ranks and that they are expected to discharge their duties diligently and with caution at all material times.