This statement follows an oversight visit to Mangaung Police Station in the Free State by DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP.
Please find soundbites in English and IsiZulu by Mr Mbhele.
Today's oversight visit to the Mangaung Police Station's Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit in the Free State, highlights a nation-wide problem of police members with criminal records, which is reflective of mismanagement on the part of the police top brass.
In Mangaung specifically, there are 3 FCS SAPS members with criminal charges relating to the defrauding of SASSA, reckless driving and assault. According to the law, someone with a criminal record is not eligible to serve as a police officer. However, in the course of the oversight visit, an explanation was brought forth to indicate that at least one of the criminal records is a case of wrongful conviction that needs to be investigated, as the member was not aware of the record against their name and was never called as a witness to a court process that resulted in the conviction.
Whatever the full facts of the matter, it is clear that there has been a management failure in the criminal justice system whereby the criminal record was not picked up earlier and the member thus afforded an opportunity to explain the preceding circumstances and apply for condonation or expungement.
It's patently clear that police members who have criminal records would either be not fit to serve in the SAPS and especially to deal with children and victims of sexual violence, or they might have been failed by mismanagement to ensure correct records concerning their criminal status, which could potentially haunt the careers of serving members unfairly.
The fact that there are cops with convictions still in the police service, especially the critical component such as the FCS unit, demonstrates that the ANC government does not care enough to ensure SAPS members are fit and proper for serving those affected by crime, or at the least is mismanaging these records and human resource systems.
The entire SAPS leadership crisis continues to fail our people, especially victims of rape, due to the under-resourced and under-trained police service.
The fight against the unacceptably high levels of crimes becomes a futile exercise when the police service is harbouring police officers with criminal records.
The DA has relentlessly called on the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to ensure an overhaul of the SAPS leadership and the adequate training of the police personnel in order to ensure the safety of all South Africans in their homes and in the streets.
If Minister Cele was serious about his job, he would crack down on criminal cops, remove from the service those who rightly should be, and ensure a swift and effective condonation process for those who qualify for it. Individuals who are not fit-for-purpose offer nothing in the bid to fight crime and make South Africa safe.
Minister Cele must immediately remove patently criminal cops and clean up the records such that they should not put an unjust stain against the names of men and women in the SAPS.
Zakhele Mbhele MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police