Officers aiding escapees not facing severe consequences

Mireille Wenger, MPP

Democratic Alliance Spokesperson on Community Safety Western Cape

The number of police officers aiding escapees in general, and particularly in the Western Cape is cause for serious concern. As the Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson on Community Safety in the Western Cape,  I will be posing further parliamentary questions to determine how many of the officers found guilty of this offence have been charged criminally.

In a reply to a DA parliamentary question in the National Assembly, the Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko admitted that over the last three years, 281 South African Police Service (SAPS) officers in the Western Cape have been charged with aiding an escapee.  Of the 281 cases, roughly 60% of the officers (162 officers) were found guilty of this offence.

On the one hand the SAPS management must be acknowledged for taking steps to charge these errant officers and showing unequivocally that this sort of behaviour will not be accepted.  With 907 officers charged across South Africa in 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13, approximately one third of all officers charged nationwide for aiding escapees were in the Western Cape. On the other hand however, the consequences appear to be far too lenient. Aiding an escapee is tantamount to defeating the ends of justice and is a very serious matter.  That being so, only 2 out of the 162 guilty officers were dismissed from the Service.  A further 133 received a warning, whether that be verbal or written whilst the remainder received fines, counselling or suspension.

Police officers are duty bound to uphold and enforce the law. We simply cannot allow officers to aid and abet potential criminals from facing the law. I will now be posing questions in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament to establish how many of the 162 guilty officers have been charged criminally and engage with all role-players to redress this serious issue.