It has come as a shock to the public as well as to members of the SAPS to witness the number of senior police members who have been arrested during recent months for their alleged involvement in tender fraud.
Yet, a step that should be welcomed is that Gen Khehla Sitole, the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service has affirmed his support for any steps that need to be taken to root out corruption within the police’s ranks. This was clear when the office of the National Commissioner issued a media statement on 12 October 2020, in which he also confirmed the arrest of one of the SAPS's Deputy National Commissioners, Lt-Gen Bonang Mgwenya by the Investigating Directorate (ID).
Lt-Gen Mgwenya, is the 13th suspect who has been arrested in connection with multi-million rand tender fraud relating to the procurement of emergency warning equipment (blue lights) for the South African Police Service in 2017. And it was a shock to be informed that of the 13 suspects, nine are police officials, and include former acting National Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane and the former Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Deliwe de Lange.
As mentioned in the media statement, Gen Sitole has reaffirmed the support of the SAPS Top Management into any and all criminal investigations against any member of the SAPS stating that “nobody is above the law”. “My position regarding criminality by members within the ranks of the SAPS has been made clear by the arrest of a multitude of SAPS members by a task team reporting to me on investigations into vehicle-marking tender fraud as well as our support to the Investigative Directorate in respect of the blue-light tender fraud investigation,” said Gen Sitole.
Even though the National Commissioner has remarked that the law must take its course and that justice must prevail in all criminal cases involving police officials, it is of great concern that so many senior police officials have been arrested for their alleged involvement in criminal activities in recent months. This leaves members of the public with the question, who in the police can one trust? With the negative example set by so many senior police officials, one should therefore also not be surprised when more junior police members are involved in criminal activities.
It is clear that fraud and corruption are serious problems and that urgent interventions are needed to address these crimes within the SAPS’s ranks.
Let’s not forget that members of the public are often the co-accused in corruption cases, as in the blue-light tender case.
We, as members of the public therefore need to not only point fingers towards the alleged criminal activities that involve police or other government employees but do serious introspection about what we are willing to do to get a tender or not pay a fine, even if it is a simple traffic fine.
Former member of the SAPS