/ 13 December 2021

Eastern Cape police saddled with R8bn civil claims

Members Of The South African Police Serv
(RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The South African Police Service in the Eastern Cape is saddled with almost R8-billion in claims for alleged misconduct after paying more than R48.4-million in reparations during the 2020-21 financial year. 

This was stated by the province’s MEC for community safety, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, in a written reply in parliament to the Democratic Alliance’s Bobby Stevenson

Tikana-Gxothiwe said 523 payments totalling R48 455 195.79 “paid in respect of capital and interest for claims” had been made against the province’s police officers. In total, there were 1 242 claims.

More staggering is that there are 6 528 civil claims pending against the province’s police, dating as far back as 2006. 

Some 1 202 claims were recorded in 2020, 1 838 in 2019, 1 190 in 2018 and 999 in 2017. The least number of claims — four — were recorded in 2008, while 2009 had five and the years 2006 and 2010 each saw six claims come in.

Most of the 1 242 claims in the current reporting period were for wrongful arrest (710), and 168 were for assault by police. 

“No suspension was processed regarding any member that was involved in a resolved civil claim for 2020/2021,” Tikana-Gxothiwe said in her reply. 

The DA’s Stevenson said what made the numbers worrying was an apparent lack of action against offending police officers. 

“The breakdown of claims against police paints a picture of a violent police service that is clearly not upholding the law or respecting the rights of residents, with little or no consequences,” he said.

“Despite the escalating numbers, MEC Tikana-Gxothiwe has said not one police officer has been suspended as a result of claims that have been resolved and which have been awarded against police in the 2020/2021 financial year. There is a clear lack of political will to deal with police officers who break the law.”