Thando Mgaga and Nivashni Nair
A REPORT tabling recommendations to stop police from using state vehicles to frequent shebeens, being rude to victims of crime and stealing from crime scenes has been released more than seven years after the inquiry.
In 2005, communities throughout KwaZulu-Natal lodged complaints against the police to the commission of inquiry set up by then KwaZulu- Natal premier S'bu Ndebele, but their concerns and the panel's recommendations only saw daylight when the report was dropped on MPLs' desks in December last year.
The commission found that 57 of the 260 public complaints were substantiated and that the police had in 2004 and 2005 failed to investigate cases properly, gave inadequate feedback to victims and witnesses, were involved in criminal activities and were rude to the public.
In some instances, complainants said police ignored their complaints, stole from crime scenes and were friends with druglords.
Police officers in rural areas told the commission there were deep racial divisions within the detective services and black officers were assigned to investigate cases in villages while white officers probed cases in towns.
The commission recommended adequate training in investigation skills, ethics, management and liaison, and said management needed to improve its disciplinary process for officers involved in crime.
It also suggested that police develop better processes to improve public interaction.
Despite ongoing complaints against the police to date, it is unclear if the recommendations have been implemented since the release of the report.
Community Safety and Liaison spokesman Kwanele Ncalane yesterday referred questions surrounding the report to KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize's office.
Mkhize's spokesman, Ndabe Sibiya, said since taking over from Ndebele, the premier had insisted on the report being finalised because rooting out any form of unprofessionalism, ineffeciency and ineffectiveness within the justice and police administration cluster was top of his agenda.
DA leader in the provincial legislature Sizwe Mchunu said the report should not be ignored.
"It may be years later, but KwaZulu-Natal continues to plagued by issues of service delivery, failures, skills and training shortcomings, and management issues, all of which reflect on the efficiency and effectiveness of the SAPS in this province."