In a reply to a DA parliamentary question received yesterday, it was revealed that 150 SAPS members are currently on suspension awaiting disciplinary hearings. The charges include murder, attempted murder, rape and theft.
The parliamentary reply indicates that there has been a massive decline in the number of SAPS members who have been suspended. Although this should be seen as a good sign, a decrease of 700 suspensions is highly suspicious.
In the 2009-2010 financial year, 771 SAPS members were suspended. Last year, the number increased to 869 SAPS members. During this period, there were also 2154 SAPS members facing criminal charges.
The question that needs to be asked is why there are so few suspensions in comparison to previous years. Early this week, the Minister of Police confirmed in a reply that some stations fail to submit complaints to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) on time. SAPS members should not be allowed to get away with committing crimes themselves.
I am on oversight with the Police Portfolio committee in the Northern Cape and am daily seeing proof that there is indeed, as we have suspected, a separate Criminal Justice System at work for SAPS members. For example, three members were arrested in connection with altering a last will and testament, taking the thumbprint of a deceased man. One altered the will, and the other two witnessed it. Their punishment? A R500 fine each, and they didn’t miss a day a work.
They should, of course, have been dismissed from the SAPS.
In addition, it must be asked how many SAPS members are suspended with full pay. The reply stated that the average days for full suspension with remuneration are 258 days. In the previous financial year, the SAPS spent over R8 million on suspensions.
I expect answers from the Minister of Police to the following batch of follow-up questions:
The Minister needs to ensure us that SAPS members who are suspected of criminal offences are reported timeously and that their disciplinary hearings are dealt with speedily. We also need assurances that those who commit crime are dismissed immediately. We cannot have criminals acting as crime fighters.
We need honest officers on the street, fighting crime.
Statement issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police, July 26 2012