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‘Fear made police cook stats’

The alleged cooking of crime statistics by police stations in three provinces is the consequence of ”fear” instilled in police managers by former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, Johan Burger of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) has charged.

Last week the Mail & Guardian reported on the alleged manipulation of statistics by a KwaZulu-Natal police station and victimisation of a whistleblower.

Further cases of the concealment and destruction of dockets in Gauteng and the Western Cape have since been reported, including a whistle­blower’s claims that the Paarl police station failed to record or investigate 52 rape cases, including one involving a child of four.

Constable Craig Nolan Josiah won a reprieve from the KwaZulu-Natal High Court after his station commissioner, Hariram Badul, suspended him without pay for exposing a statistics-cooking racket at Mountain Rise police station.

After a recommendation by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), Nathi Mthethwa, the police minister, issued a directive this week that Badul be charged with corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

Burger said Selebi, on leave after being charged with corruption, introduced the ”Selebi trials”, in which senior police managers were dragged to Pretoria and told to explain their crime statistics.

Although intended to introduce accountability, these ”unintentionally” put pressure on the police to perform at any cost.

”He thought that by instilling the fear of death in his commanders he would motivate them to perform,” Burger said.

”Selebi had good intentions, but confused good management practices with management by fear,” Burger said.

Selebi dismissed this, saying that Burger, a veteran police manager who had worked under him, did not raise this while in police employ. ”He suddenly has these bright ideas,” said Selebi.

He said the manipulation of crime statistics had ”absolutely nothing” to do with the way he ran the police.

Despite his criticism, Burger dismissed suggestions that the manipulation of statistics could have affected annual crime statistics.

He said the National Victims of Crime Survey, an independent study used to confirm police statistics, would have highlighted anomalies arising from manipulation.

”I do not think that this [manipulation] is as widespread as everyone thinks it is,” he said.

Meanwhile, Glynnis Underhill reports that the Western Cape community safety minister, Lennit Max, is ”annoyed and disappointed” that Tim Williams, the acting national police commissioner, has failed to respond to his letters calling for an independent audit of the manipulation of crime statistics at police stations in the province.

The lack of response to letters he wrote on June 1 and June 11 prompted him to lay a criminal charge against the Paarl police station and to lay a complaint with the ICD detailing the accusations about the station and several others accused of cooking statistics. The ICD and police investigators have spent the past two weeks looking into the affairs at the Paarl police station, said a police source. ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini said he was still awaiting a final police report on the allegations.

Police spokesperson Billy Jones said the four Lansdowne police station police officers accused last year of tampering with crime statistics will appear before a disciplinary hearing shortly. Former station commander Senior Superintendent Charlene Chandler, voted runner-up station commissioner last year, is one of those facing discipline.

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