R1.8 billion in civil claims against Eastern Cape police over three years - DA

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 15, 2014

According to Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape, a total of 4 534 civil claims, amounting to a massive R1,8 billion (or R1 861 913 832.49) were made against the South African Police Services (SAPS) in the Eastern Cape over the last three years, with R73, 026 million actually awarded to claimants.

“There should be no place for unlawful behaviour in the SAPS. A reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Safety and Liaison, Weziwe Tikana, has revealed that over the three-year period, payments amounting to R73,026 million (73 026 982.59) had been paid out to 1 707 claimants,” DA Shadow MEC for Safety and Security, Bobby Stevenson said in a statement.

He said, in 2011/12, the amount paid out was R15 387 026.30 for 506 claims; which rose to R23 941 348.18 for 538 claims in 2012/13; and R33 698 608.11 for 663 claims in 2013/14.

“What is disturbing, are the big increases in amounts that were paid out each year. In the last financial year there was an increase of 43%. The trend is alarming. It is far too high. We are a constitutional democracy and there should be a strong human rights culture in the SAPS. These figures tell another story,” said Stevenson.

“Out of the 4 534 claims that were made, the majority were for unlawful arrest and detention, namely 3 057 claims, and 268 for assault.

“The good name and reputation of our hard working members of SAPS, who work under difficult circumstance, must not be allowed to be tarnished by the actions of lawless elements.”

A report tabled in parliament last year, showed that the Eastern Cape had the second highest number of SAPS members with criminal records, after Gauteng. The highest number of members who had committed multiple offences - 133, came from the Eastern Cape.

“The fact that members of SAPS are guilty of unlawful behaviour is indeed alarming. The very nature of police work prescribes that there will be a certain level of temptation and opportunity to act in an unlawful and violent manner. It is therefore imperative that psychometric testing is done to ensure that new recruits are of the right calibre,” Stevenson said.

“The job of the SAPS is to protect members of the public and to uphold and enforce the rule of law. It is imperative that people entrusted with this duty do not act like criminals themselves and undermine our constitutional democracy.

“If the SAPS are to enjoy the public’s full trust, needless, callous and rough treatment must be stopped.”

He said that the DA will continue to monitor this issue and will ask further questions as to what steps are being taken to reduce the prevalence of violent behaviour and crime in the SAPS.