DA calls for establishment of parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee to investigate rampant criminality in SAPS

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to request that she uses the power at her disposal in terms of Rule 253(1) (b) of the Rules of the National Assembly to establish an Ad Hoc Committee of the National Assembly to investigate criminality and corruption at the South African Police Services (SAPS).

This is in light of yet another scandal involving the police, this time the SAPS Deputy National Commissioner, Bonang Mgwenya, who was arrested in connection with alleged R200 million tender fraud related to the 2017 procurement of police emergency warning equipment.

In addition to this arrest, the SAPS has for years been plagued by what appears to be systemic corruption and criminality.  Recent examples include:

  • Reports that one of the officers involved in the killing of 16 year old Nathaniel Julie has three previous criminal convictions, including assault, assault to cause grievous bodily harm, and malicious damage to property;
  • Several instances of corruption and bribery during the national lockdown;
  • Serious allegations of SAPS corruption leading to the death of top cop Charl Kinnear;
  • Media reports indicated at least R56 million was illegally siphoned off the police budget in just one matter involving eight high ranking SAPS members who were arrested in pre-dawn raid in June 2020; and
  • The fact that nearly a hundred officials have been doing business with SAPS between 2014 -2019 – despite it being illegal. The 20 most lucrative contracts amount to nearly R6.8 million.

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg, and there is no doubt a long list of fraud, corruption, and other cases of wrongdoing that is yet to be uncovered. What is clear, however, is that we need a dedicated Ad Hoc Committee in Parliament investigating the corruption and criminality within the police ranks. The Portfolio Committee on Police is already dealing with a large number of items in its schedule, and does not have the time and capacity to exclusively deal with the issue of criminality within SAPS.

The DA resolution to establish the Committee, will include the power to:

  • Summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, or to produce documents;
  • Receive petitions, representations or submissions from interested persons or institutions;
  • Permit oral evidence on petitions, representations, submissions, and any other matter before the Committee; and
  • Conduct public hearings.

The criminality and corruption within SAPS has been made worse by the fact that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is severely under-capacitated and underfunded to fully investigate and refer cases for criminal prosecution. The police watchdog had previously been left without a permanent head for more than a year and is beset with capacity challenges.  That is an indictment on the Police Minister, and points to a lack of political will to seriously tackle corruption within the police service.

Taking into account the several incidents of crime committed by members of the police as well as the lack of political will under Minister Cele, Parliament needs to be given space to fully exercise its oversight responsibility in a focused and dedicated manner. We firmly believe that the formation of this Ad Hoc Committee will be a turning point in the fight against corrupt criminal cops.