The Eastern Cape police are facing a staggering R7,992 billion in claims against them for 6 528 cases of alleged wrongdoing in the province.
Despite the ever-increasing claims brought against police, the government has failed to capacitate the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), which is tasked with investigating police misconduct, with only one office to service the entire Eastern Cape.
The DA wants to see a fully resourced and disciplined police service that inspires confidence and hope for a safer tomorrow.
In the last financial year, SAPS have paid out R48,455 million for 523 claims that have been finalised.
These figures, revealed by the MEC of Community Safety, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, in response to a parliamentary question from the DA, show a police service that has become a law unto itself.
The MEC revealed that in the 2020 / 2021 financial year, at least 1 242 claims against the police had been registered, of which 710 were for wrongful arrest and a disturbing 168 claims were for assault. There were also 66 claims for collisions, 56 claims against the police for shooting incidents and 47 for illegal search and seizures, among others.
See IQP 14 Q 370
IPID has a severe lack of capacity to investigate police misconduct, which is leading to a breakdown of trust between the community and the police.
In a separate response, MEC Tikana-Gxothiwe revealed that only one of the five offices for IPID, namely the one in East London, were open and operational.
Of the 71 staff, which includes 54 investigators that the IPID should have, it only has 24 staff members, of which only 13 are investigators, for the entire province!
The severe lack of capacity is hamstringing the IPID. Of the 1 599 cases that the IPID were dealing with in the 2019/2020 financial year, 1 037 were carried over.
Of the 562 cases that were dealt with, 202 were simply closed because complainants could not be traced, were uncooperative or suspects could not be identified.
See IQP 46 Q 1109
The breakdown of claims against police paints a picture of a violent police service that is clearly not upholding the law or respecting the rights of residents, with little or no consequences.
Despite the escalating numbers, MEC Tikana-Gxothiwe has said not one police officer has been suspended as a result of claims that have been resolved and which have been awarded against police in the 2020/2021 financial year.
There is a clear lack of political will to deal with police officers who break the law.
Nationally, the ANC government has only allocated R348 million to the IPID for the financial year. In comparison, the same ANC government has spent R30.8 billion on bailouts on the “SAA vanity project” since 2017.
The DA will continue to fight for the rotten apples to be held to account and disciplined, so that police misconduct can be eradicated.
Until such time that the political leadership take responsibility and start ensuring that there are consequences for those who act outside the prescripts of the law, the number of claims will continue to escalate along with community mistrust.
These claims eat into much-needed funds that could be better spent on resources for SAPS, such as vehicles.