A total of 10 086 South African Police Service (SAPS) members have been charged for serious criminal offences between 2013 and 2021. These offenses include: murder, rape and assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm. Only 50 of these, more than 10 000 members, have been formally suspended by the SAPS. This data has been made available after a parliamentary question submitted by Andrew Whitfield, DA MP to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele.
“Action Society is especially concerned about the amount of rape charges, where the alleged perpetrators did not face any suspension at all. Out of the 282 members that were charged for rape, only 11 were suspended ̶ this in a country that has a less than 3% rape conviction rate,” said Ian Cameron of Action Society.
Cameron reiterated that South Africa is facing a gender-based violence pandemic of immense proportions and now it seems police are not only failing to combat these crimes, they are also guilty of committing them.
It is important to understand that suspensions were, in most cases, meant to occur while the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) were conducting their investigations into the alleged rape cases.
Recently it was reported that National Police Commissioner, Khehla Sitole, was served with a notice of intention to suspend. The notice came in light of the High Court decision in January which found that Sitole and two of his lieutenants, had “breached their duties” by intentionally frustrating the IPID investigations into corrupt procurement deals within the Crime Intelligence environment. Deputy National Commissioner, Ntombenhle Vuma has also taken ‘indefinite leave’.
“It is apparent that the complete lack of accountability and arrogance displayed by the leaders of the SAPS are filtering down to station and operational level. The SAPS is an organisation crippled by political agendas and cadre deployment and are not fulfilling their constitutional duties ̶ to serve and protect ̶ the South African public,” Cameron continues.
Action Society is not saying that all members who have been charged are guilty, but rather that there is a very concerning trend of violent offences committed by police members, with rape being one of the leading violent crimes. In South Africa approximately 116 rape cases being reported per day and it is believed that this is only 10% of actual incidents. This statistic is a clear indication that South Africans, especially victims of GBV, have lost all faith in the justice system ̶ a system where officers who are supposed to be protecting them are becoming the perpetrators.
Cameron concludes: “Action Society believes that a solution to this failing institution is the devolution of the SAPS, which has been strongly called for, specifically in the Western Cape. If this doesn’t happen, it simply means that policing will further deteriorate. It could serve as a start to do similar structuring of other law enforcement and justice institutions that have been crippled by the ANC through cadre deployment and corruption.”