Zwanga Mukhuthu, Rhea Macdonald and Olona Tywabi
POLICE Minister Nathi Mthethwa wants the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to investigate "systematic corruption” within the police. This, he said, included bribes, the embezzlement of funds and incidences where members of the public "bought” jobs in the SAPS.
Opening a two-day "systematic corruption prevention” seminar yesterday in East London, the minister said the Ipid should expose and deal with networks of criminals that operated within the South African Police Service. "Our officers must be seen and see themselves as guardians of human rights.
"When society gets affected by crime, they need to have hope that police will do their best to protect them,” Mthethwa said.
"Critical in fighting crime is the campaign to weed out elements within the criminal justice system who are engaged in various acts of crime, including corruption.”
He said corruption was undermining and disrupting South Africa’s democracy.
Mthethwa also said the seminar, between police bodies including the Ipid, Hawks, Special Investigative Unit (SIU), Public Service Commission, Corruption Watch and police unions, should come up with measures to deal with the scourge of corruption.
He wanted the success of the police to be judged according to the number of criminals jailed, rather than the number of arrests made, the minister said.
Although the final call to send criminals to jail rested with the Justice Department, he said, with good detective work everything was possible.
The shortage of police detectives in South Africa was also being addressed, he said. "All members of the police from now on will be introduced to basic detective work, whether they end up operating as detectives or not.”
Ipid executive director Francois Beukman said his office was investigating 110 cases in which Eastern Cape police were implicated in crimes, including murder, rape and robbery.
Beukman said 90 matters were in the hands of the Directorate of Public Prosecution, which would decide whether or not to prosecute.
Brigadier Kubandran Moodley, of the national Hawks, said South Africa was ranked the 64th most corrupt country in the world, after sitting at 38 in 2003.
Professor Johan Burger, of the Institute of Security Studies, said there was "no single source to detect whether corruption is getting worse or not”.
Gina Howes, of the Special Investigative Unit, said they were investigating 588 procurement contracts to the value of R9.1-billion, and 360 conflict of interest matters, to the value of R3.4-billion.
The seminar continues today.