When I read the news this morning my first reaction was: ‘Why did it take so long?” Fraud and corruption in the Police Force was unheard of in my old ‘police days’. We were labelled as puppets of the State, and were called ‘pigs’, ‘platpote’ (flat feet), and were very often accused of police brutality, but fraud and corruption did not exist within our ranks, - definitely not on the grand scale we see today in the new ‘enhanced’ South African Police Force!
The rotten apples in today’s ‘new’ Police Force started pouring into the system 16 years ago when the ANC government took over the reigns of power in April 1994. Many of those rotten apples progressed quickly through the ranks, and are today in top management positions. More rotten apples were introduced into the system soon after South Africa’s first first Black National Police Commissioner, and utter corrupt criminal, Jackie Selebi, took over the reigns in the year 2000.
It was sometime in that same year when Selebi had just become the big new police boss, when I thought I had seen it all, that a rather bizarre incident occurred at our laboratory, which convinced me that Africa was indeed a strange, mysterious, and utter corrupt continent. The IBIS-System, a computerized system that assisted us with the comparison of fired cartridge cases and bullets found on crime scenes, made a “Hit” on a firearm that was supposed to be in safe police custody at a local police station.
As with all “Hits” made by the system, everything still needed to be double-checked manually, using a comparison microscope. Protocols required that even our final conclusions, after a manual check on the microscope, whether positive, negative, or undetermined, needed to be manually confirmed by another qualified ballistic specialist. Sure enough, three 9mm cartridge cases found at a murder scene in Umlazi near Durban, showed a definite positive match with test samples that were stored on the IBIS-system, - there was no doubt about it!
The test samples were fired in a pistol that was previously sent in for ballistic examination and testing with all fired exhibits on record. The firearm was sent back to the police station that submitted it for testing with a negative report, meaning that we could not connect it to any outstanding crimes on record, but the tests that were fired in the gun remained on the IBIS-System for future comparison purposes.
The paperwork confirmed that a local black detective signed for the firearm on collection at our administrative section. What concerned me was that the murder scene in Umlazi occurred after the date on which the firearm had been collected! This was a most unusual state of affairs, as never in my entire police career, nor in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that a firearm could possibly be involved in a crime AFTER the police had taken custody of it!
The standard procedure was to keep the firearm in safe police custody until all legal matters pertaining to ownership and court cases had been finalized. The new Firearm’s Control Act made it near impossible for owners of lost or stolen firearms to get their firearms back once it landed in police custody. Most firearms were eventually destroyed anyway, - after a certain amount of time had elapsed.
I cannot describe how shocked I was to discover that we had connected a firearm to a serious crime, and not a soul, not even the big chief in charge of the local police station, where the firearm was supposed to have been kept in safe custody, or the detective who collected the firearm from our lab, could tell me where the exhibit firearm was.
The bottom line is that someone with access to that firearm used it to commit a murder! The murder suspect was either a policeman, or someone with close ties to the police. To make matters worse, the prime exhibit in the case was missing! The whole incident, together with all the red-tape involved, including the sloppy attitude displayed by police officials involved in the sordid affair, gave me many sleepless nights. And yes, you guessed it right! Nothing came of the incident, not even after I had reported the matter to the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).
The above incident is one of many stories that has been published in a short e-book entitled Memoir of an Apartheid Cop.
I was astonished when I read the news today that there are 362 investigations regarding disciplinary steps for fraud and corruption against SA Police employees in the 2009/2010 fiscal year. I wonder how many of these criminals have committed murder with the firearms they so freely have access to. What is the total figure since 1994?
With the advanced technology police have at their disposal today, it is a relatively easy task to connect a specific firearm to a crime. It is however not that easy to connect the individual who pulled the trigger to a specific crime, and the longer it takes to apprehend a suspect the slimmer the odds become of ever solving the crime.
More shocking news…
While I’m on this subject I might as well disclose some further shocking information: Despite what has been told to the press in this article, the bright spark detectives in our modern new Police Force DO NOT follow up on the leads given by the IBIS-System anymore. The system, which is installed in all four ballistic laboratories in South Africa, makes 100’s of so-called “HITS” every month, yet these leads are seldom (almost never) followed up, unless it is a high-profile shooting. This means that criminals are getting away with murder in this country simply because a multimillion rand, high-tech crime solving tool is not being utilized to its maximum.
Here follows the latest news report, for your reading displeasure:
119 COPS FIRED FOR FRAUD AND CORRUPTION
Johannesburg - A total of 119 police officers and administrative staff were fired for fraud and corruption in the 2009/2010 financial year, the police ministry said in a reply to be presented to Parliament on Tuesday.
"The clean-up operation of corrupt police officers and staff who are not deserving to be in the South African Police Service (SAPS), resulted in the dismissal of 119 members in the 2009/2010 financial year," a statement read.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was providing information on 362 investigations regarding disciplinary steps for fraud and corruption against employees in the 2009/2010 fiscal year.
In Gauteng 72 were dismissed, followed by Western Cape at 15 and Mpumalanga at 14. Of the total cases investigated, 29 received suspended dismissals, 26 were suspended dismissals with fines, 53 were found not guilty and 99 cases were withdrawn.
The dismissals include administrative staff at provincial and head office.
Cases investigated ranged from financial mismanagement, bribery, missing dockets as well as some police officers collaborating with criminals in offences such as robberies and vehicle hijackings.
"We shall never get tired of ridding the SAPS of rotten apples who may be within the force; in fact we shall become more determined to ensure that only law-abiding police and staff members remain in the force," Mthethwa said.
"We would rather lose a hundred corrupt cops and be left with ten morally-upright, committed and disciplined police officers."
The ministry's recruitment process would in future put emphasis on "quality rather than quantity", because they could not fight crime if staffers were themselves involved.
The "clean up" campaign would be ongoing. - SAPA
Related External Links:
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- Cops shot 566 last year
- Police strive for effective force
- Cops 'lose' 5 300 firearms
- Cop rents out police gear – report
- Cele issues stern warning to cops
Related posts on this blog:
- Lost or Stolen Weapons – SANDF
- A Peculiar South African Essay
- We don’t want White Pilots in the SA Police
- Give us back our old Police Force!
- Corrupt Criminal Cops
- Upmarket Cops and Robbers
- Hell has no fury like a country scorned!
- Police arrest 103 Forensic Science Analysts – Pretoria
- January is moving too fast!
- Chaos in the South African Police Service
- Crime – A battle lost?
- New Anti Crime Unit firmly under ANC control
- Confusion on the shooting range
- Memoir of an Apartheid Cop