Study on police crime ‘misleading’, says Mthethwa

A South African Institute of Race Relations study on South Africa’s corrupt police is “misleading”, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Monday.

“While we welcome contributions from all researchers, we believe it serves no intention when they go on misleading campaigns in order to articulate their findings,” he said in a statement.

“There has been a concerted drive from this police leadership to fight crime smartly and toughly which, by the way, includes rooting out those tsotsi-cops who may be among us, and we have been forthright about this.

“Whether the SAIRR chooses to deliberately or subjectively ignore this fact, our mission will continue unhindered,” he said.

‘Broken Blue Line’
The report, titled “Broken Blue Line”, was released on Monday and was conducted by the institute’s unit for risk analysis.

After many media reports over the alleged involvement of policemen or “people dressed in police uniforms” in serious crimes, the institute set out to determine the scale of the problem.

“The results were alarming,” the report reads. “Within a week, a list of over 100 separate incidents alleging and/or confirming the police’s involvement in serious crimes was drawn up.

“Without exception, the 100 incidents identified in this report are related to very serious and often violent and premeditated criminal behaviour. These included ATM bombings, armed robberies, house robberies, rapes, murders, and serious assaults.”

Researchers stopped looking for further incidents after identifying the 100 cases — about 75% of the cases happened between January 2009 and April 2010.

The study found that allegations of serious and violent crimes against police were not “simply isolated incidents”; rather they fitted into a general pattern of allegations that was common across the country.

The allegation that people committing crimes wearing police uniforms were not necessarily police officers was described as “unconvincing” in the report.

“From the 100 cases, a great many incidents are cited, where policemen on duty, in uniform, and/or driving state vehicles are alleged to have committed crimes often with their service weapons,” it read.

It further found that very few convictions of police were recorded weighed against the large number of incidents reported.

Working together
On Monday, Mthethwa said a better approach for researchers would have been to approach the ministry with its findings and together work towards finding “sustainable solutions” to fight crime.

“For the record, some of the [South African Police Service] members who were found guilty by courts of law were additionally either dismissed and/or additional internal disciplinary measures imposed on them by the department,” he said.

Mthethwa said none of the 100 cases referred to in the report was ignored by police management. Those involved were arrested and investigated.

Legislation determining the mandate of the Independent Complaints Directorate was focused “squarely” on empowering the unit to be more effective.

The ICD now reported directly to the police ministry.

“We are not denialists in the fight against crime, nor are we turning a blind eye to suggestions, but such must be constructive criticism,” he said.

“We believe there is a war which, by the way, has been declared by criminals on law-abiding citizens, and that it is only through partnerships with media, civil society, business, youth formations and even credible researchers, that we can win this war,” he said.

Any “credible” research had to recommend “new innovation, new ways of doing things, but once it states the obvious, it creates mistrust”.

The ministry said police management was now paying “microscopic attention” to human resource development in the police from recruitment to retirement. — Sapa

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