Good name of SAPS members must not be tarnished by criminal minority

Bobby Stevenson MPL

Spokesperson on Safety and Security

There should be no place for criminals in the South African Police Service.  According to the reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Safety and Liaison. Helen Sauls-August, a total of 264 members of the SAPS have criminal records in the Eastern Cape and there are 474 pending cases against members.  For the reply, click here.

In another report, tabled in National Parliament last week, the Eastern Cape was the province that had the second highest number of SAPS members with criminal records, after Gauteng.  The highest number of members who had committed multiple offenses, namely 133, was from the Eastern Cape.

The good name and reputation of our hard working members of SAPS must not be allowed to be tarnished by the action of a small minority.

The question needs to be asked why they are still members and what disciplinary action has been taken against them.  According to the MEC’s reply, none of the members when they joined the police service had criminal records. This begs the question as to why they become criminals.  In a reply to a question I asked the MEC earlier this year, the alarming statistic arose that of the eight dismissals in 2010/11, three were for rape and two for murder, of the 12 dismissals in 2011/12, two were for rape and seven for murder, and in 2012/13, of the 13 dismissals, three were for rape and one for murder. All other dismissals were in connection with theft.

The fact that such serious crimes are committed by SAPS members is indeed alarming.  The very nature of police work prescribes that there will be a certain level of temptation and opportunity to commit wrongs such as theft.   It is therefore imperative that psychometric testing is done to ensure that new recruits are of the right calibre.

The job of the SAPS is to protect members of the public and to uphold and enforce the law. It is imperative that people entrusted with this duty are not criminals themselves.

If the SAPS are to enjoy the public’s full trust, the criminals in their ranks need to be removed. The DA will continue to monitor this issue and will ask further questions as to what steps are being taken to reduce the prevalence of crime in the SAPS.

The MEC must spell out what steps will be taken to cleanse the SAPS of criminals and ensure that timely action is taken in future cases.