The amount paid out in civil claims against the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Eastern Cape has skyrocketed to R51-million for the 2015/16 financial year, from R28,3-million in the 2014/15, according to a reply to a legislature question I asked Safety and Liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana.
Even more disturbing, is the 5 107 pending claims to the value of R3.5-billion, as at 31 October this year.
This is as result of poor training and a lack of accountability, such as adhering to the basics, like writing up their pocket books. The good name and reputation of our hard-working policemen and -women who work under difficult circumstances should not be tarnished by the actions of lawless elements who simply want to do as they please.
The DA has a vision of a safe province, where residents can rely on a well-managed and disciplined police force that takes pride in its calling to serve and protect. The SAPS must uphold and promote a culture of human rights and adhere to the rule of law. This lies at the heart of a constitutional democracy.
A total of 781 civil claims have been paid out so far, for 2015/16, compared to 667 claims paid out in 2014/15.
What is of concern is the claims for assault, which doubled from 62 in 2014/15 to 121 in 2015/16 as well as claims against arrests/detention, up from 863 in 2014/15 to 1 351 in 2015/16 and shooting, from 28 in the previous year, to 71 this year.
The upward trend over the past five years is indeed appalling:
- In 2011/12 the amount paid out R15 387 026.30 for 506 claims;
- In 2012/13 the amount paid out was R23 941 348.18 for 538 claims;
- In 2013/14 the amount paid out was R33 698 608 for 663 claims;
- In 2014/15 the amount paid out was R28 313 470.31 for 667 claims; and
- In 2015/16 the amount paid out being R51 035 345.18 for 781 claims.
This trend has to be reversed as a matter of urgency. It is bad for the image of the SAPS and it is bad for police-community relationships.
Although the number of claims against the SAPS are made by members of the public, an event outside of their control, there needs to be a concerted effort to reduce the circumstances that give rise to these claims. Greater discipline and more effective training will assist in this process. Ultimately leadership has to set the tone and the example to ensure that the number of claims against the SAPS decreases.
The DA will continue to monitor professionalism in the SAPS and engage on this matter in the legislature.
Bobby Stevenson, MPL
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