The South African Police Service (SAPS) has paid over R200 million in civil claims against them in the past financial year, said Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday.
The R209 926 038.76 represent 3773 payments from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013 for various cases such as wrongful arrests, rape, attempted rape, grievous bodily harm, corruption and assault.
Mthethwa was replaying to questions in Parliament on whether there has been an increase in civil claims against him and the SAPS, how this affects the SAPS image, what amount has been spent during the 2012/2013 financial year as well as what steps are being taken to rectify the situation.
Although the litigation cases are still enormous, Mthethwa was encouraged about some of the integrated systems and steps that are now in place.
These include the new entrants to the organisation, including both new and lateral entrants, who receive a thorough induction into the content and significance of the Code.
Improving the detection and investigation of members involved in corrupt and fraudulent practices and the vigorous approach to the internal communication of the various elements of the Code of Conduct, aligning these elements with basic policing function.
Mthethwa stated that increases in civil claims lodged as well as the resultant negative publicity does negatively affect the image of the SAPS and this naturally is of concern.
"I have on various occasions reiterated that we will not tolerate police officers who abuse the law, whether from wrongful arrests or assault [to] any person. That is why we have now strengthened civilian oversight of the police through the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and the Civilian Secretariat for Police," said Mthetwa.
This year, he said he has instructed the national commissioner of police to address a more appropriate and sustainable way to address civil litigation.
Mthethwa added that the SAPS, through its internal communication media is also educating and motivating its employees to abide by the SAPS Code of Conduct at all times, to be aware of and counteract risks and to be aware that their conduct reflects on the reputation of the organisation. – SAnews.gov.za