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Minister cannot say with certainty how many police members were criminally charged over last four financial years

The Minister of Police is unable to say how many police members were arrested on serious criminal charges over the last four financial years, and uses a flawed system as an excuse to cover up the extent of the problem.

Minister Bheki Cele provided several reasons for why comprehensive figures are not available in response to a parliamentary question by the FF Plus.

It comes down to the fact that there are separate systems for the various different divisions and levels in the police force on which the relevant data is stored, but there is no final, reliable database on which all the data is integrated and verified. (Questions and replies are attached herewith.)

According to the Minister, a system for combining and verifying all the data is currently being developed. This system should be up and running by 30 September this year.

The FF Plus asked the Minister how many police members were arrested during the financial years since 2019-20 in relation to incidents of murder, robbery and rape. The Minister was also asked in a separate question how many members were arrested in connection with livestock theft, farm murders, transit heists and kidnapping.

In his reply, the Minister said, among other things, that he is fully aware of the “serious implications” of police members’ involvement in crime and, in particular, the impact it has on the public’s faith in the police force.

He added that an analysis of the matter indicted that discrepancies exist between the physical case dockets, and the provincial and national databases concerning cases involving police members.

Therefore, a system to gather, control and verify all this information must first be put in place. It could be “harmful to those implicated” if information were to be released before such a system is in place.

The FF Plus finds the situation alarming, and wants the Minister to indicate how long the police’s top management has been aware of the current system’s shortcomings. It is unacceptable that the Minister of Police has no clear idea of the extent of criminality among his members as he does not have access to a comprehensive database that is regularly updated.

Without access to detailed information, no preventative measures can be put in place to prevent criminality among members or to effectively address problems. The FF Plus will surely demand that proper answers to these questions must be provided by 30 September.

And in the meantime, the public cannot be blamed for increasingly losing faith in a police service that is run by incompetent persons.

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