/ 23 October 2009

How cops cooked crime books

A police report leaked to the Mail & Guardian alleges that a captain at Paarl station had the responsibility of manipulating crime statistics to reflect a lower incidence of serious crime.

The report was sent to the Western Cape police commissioner, Mzwandile Petros, on June 15 this year by director Vincent Beaton, who had just been appointed station commissioner of Paarl station.

Beaton had instructed an inspector stationed at Paarl crime intelligence to analyse all complaints of theft and malicious damage to property laid at Paarl police station for the period May to October last year. His report to Petros contains sworn statements from four officers at the Paarl station.

”The docket analysis for [this] period indicated 65 cases had been wrongly registered. Statements were also obtained which strongly suggest that the statistics were manipulated,” Beaton wrote.

His report says instructions were issued that certain police officers should first be contacted before the registering of priority crime, listed as housebreaking, murder, rape, robbery, assault with grievous bodily harm (GBH), theft of motor vehicles and theft from motor vehicles.

”It is also further alleged,” Beaton wrote, ”that Captain [Hildegard] Mackier had the authority to change the charges of reported crime to ensure a reduction in registered serious crimes. [Serious crimes were changed to less serious crimes.]”

Beaton wrote that the acting commander of the Paarl family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit had told him that former Paarl police station commissioner Mzwandile Tiyo had instructed officers not to open rape cases, but rather to record them as inquiries.

”I request the provincial commissioner to investigate these serious allegations and to temporarily remove — Mackier, pending the outcome, as her integrity has been tainted and compromised by these allegations,” Beaton’s report says. Mackier has since been transferred to the Cape Town crime intelligence unit, police spokesperson Billy Jones told the M&G.

The sworn statements Beaton appended to his report include:

  • A police superintendent referring to Tiyo’s instruction that Mackier had the mandate to change the charges and must be informed at all times about any priority crimes. ”Sometimes Captain Mackier said that a crime scene cannot be a housebreaking/theft out of motor vehicle, or assault GBH because the station stats are already red [that is, higher than in the preceding year]. Then she [would] change it to MITP [malicious damage to property], theft or assault common,” wrote the superintendent.
  • A police inspector saying inquiries instead of case dockets were sometimes opened. He cited the case of a woman claiming she had been raped and assaulted by a man she knew. ”I personally took these statements and prepared case dockets but later learned that inquiries were opened,” he wrote.
  • Another Paarl police inspector saying Tiyo had instructed the station’s crime combating forum to inform Mackier and the sector managers of any priority crime that occurred in the station area, before the registration of the docket.

Jones told the M&G that Tiyo has since moved to the Cape Town police war room, which coordinates police information on serious crime.

He said the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) was investigating the allegations. ”Although the officers [Tiyo and Mackier] seem eager to dispute these allegations, it would be improper for them to comment — when they still have to be interviewed by the ICD,” Jones said.

Petros’s office told the M&G it would decline to comment ”as it does not want to jeopardise the ICD investigation”.

Moses Dlamini, national spokesperson for the ICD, said it could not complete its investigation until information it had requested from Petros’s office was handed over.