DA slams police for lax approach to 'unruly officers'

Only two of the 55 misconduct charges brought against members of the police’s VIP protection unit resulted in dismissals over a four-year period, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Wednesday.

This, according to DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard, rendered the South African Police Service (SAPS) incapable of holding unruly police officers, who repeatedly intimidated motorists, accountable.

“Officers of the SAPS VIP protection unit are seemingly getting away with their criminal actions without any proper disciplinary measures being taken against them ...
and the DA reiterates its call for the introduction of a new code of conduct for the VIP unit, to assist in holding its officers to rigorous standards,” Barnard said.

This came in the wake a Johannesburg motorist being assaulted, allegedly by the president’s VIP officers, on the N12 near Johannesburg after his car “got too close” to President Kgalema Motlanthe’s convoy on Saturday.

The Independent Online reported on Monday that VIP unit members fired shots at the man’s car and then confiscated equipment belonging to South African Broadcasting Corporation journalists when they arrived on the scene.

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) confirmed on Wednesday that they were investigating the incident, as well as many others that were reported over the last 12 months.

ICD spokesperson Tommy Tshabalala said the report would be completed in two weeks.

“The perception in the public mind is that these guys are unruly and think they are above the law so these, along with Saturday’s incident, are some of the things we are investigating.”

He said they would also investigate whether or not the motorist involved was at fault.

“Our investigation is to establish what transpired on the day in question and make appropriate recommendations should there be any wrongdoing on the part of the police member, but to equally support that the law take its course should the motorist be found to have been at fault.”

He said it was “disturbing to note” that Saturday’s incident took place at all.

“As the ICD we do not condone a situation where members of the public behave in a manner that would be construed as threatening the security of the head of state,” Tshabalala said.

The unit would, however, not investigate the recent shooting involving a member of KwaZulu-Natal social development minister Meshack Radebe’s VIP protection unit.

Constable Hlanganani Nxumalo allegedly shot out a car’s tyre on the N3 near Camperdown on November 15, causing a head-on collision that injured eight people.

“We are only monitoring that incident and the one in Mpumalanga [where a woman was assaulted] because the police have already taken action against the members,” he said.—Sapa

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