“To a large extent we also need to acknowledge that while there are pockets of excellence within the organisations, there is sadly a culture of unaccountability and poor management,” Mthethwa told the Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (Popcru) summit in Boksburg on Tuesday.
He said it was a huge challenge to create the calibre of police officer who was “fully enshrined with democratic principles”.
The South African Police Service had inherited these problems from an apartheid police force.
“This inheritance has had a number of important consequences … in that authoritarian policing has few [if any] systems of accountability, oversight and does not require public legitimacy in order to be effective.”
Mthethwa said this called for “continuous de-education of unwanted old practices and re-education of the kind of cop we have”.
“The SAPS, as an organ of government, must perform without fear or favour on any person who breaks the law.
“To enable it to do so, it requires the kind of police officers who conform to clear principles of batho pele [People first] whose conviction is not influenced by external factors.”
Mthethwa refused to comment on suspended crime intelligence boss Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli.
When asked in general about how corrupt police officers should be dealt with, he said they would be dealt with like anyone in South Africa.
Mdluli’s suspension, disclosed on Sunday, was related to allegations emerging from the ongoing court inquest into the murder of Mdluli’s former lover’s husband Oupa Ramogibe in 1999.
He also faced fraud and corruption charges relating to alleged misuse of a crime intelligence fund, the purchase of luxury vehicles and the hiring of family members.
He was suspended but both sets of charges were later withdrawn and Mdluli was reinstated as head of crime intelligence in March this year.
Acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said on Sunday Mdluli had again been suspended. – Sapa