The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has launched a toll-free number that will see the public expeditiously lodge misconduct complaints by police officers.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said while he was confident that the majority of police officers were hardworking, dedicated and honest, there were rogue elements that disgrace the badge.
“Police misconduct, whether alleged or proven, has a negative impact on our society. Any transgression committed by an officer of the law erodes the trust and confidence communities have towards the police,” Cele said.
The Minister acknowledged that many of these “police turned criminals” have been brought before the courts.
The IPID is mandated to conduct independent and impartial investigations of criminal offences allegedly committed by members of the SAPS and Municipal Police.
“The bottom line is that the IPID keeps the police in check at all times,” said Cele.
He saluted the IPID for continuing to take down criminals masquerading as police. This includes the arrest of officers implicated in alleged corruption, and those violating their constitutional mandate.
“In many cases, the police directorate will also step in when the conduct of the police, during operations, is in question. Whatever the case, IPID is required to exercise its powers fairly, impartially and without fear, favour or bias,” said Cele.
The public can now lodge complaints on 0800 111 696, a toll-free hotline number that empowers communities.
Through this number, citizens will have direct access to a directorate that ensures accountability in the police service.
During the briefing, Cele reiterated his confidence in IPID executive director, Jennifer Ntlatseng, to steer the ship in the right direction and bring much needed stability to the organisation.
“I believe the launch of this IPID hotline number brings the IPID one step closer to better positioning itself as an effective and impartial oversight body of the police.
“It is also a bold move that aims to better serve the people of this country,” said Cele.
With the launch of this hotline number, communities will have better access to justice and recourse.
“I urge all South Africans to use this number wisely and responsibly. Report officers who sleep on duty. Report officers who turn away victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence at police stations.
“Report officers who abuse State resources and State vehicles. Report officers who harass and intimidate citizens. Report officers who aid in the sale of drugs and protect drug dealers. Report all forms of corruption by officers,” said the Minister.
The quality of IPID investigations, Cele said, is crucial to ensuring police accountability for any wrongdoing
“It is equally important for complainants to receive consistent quality service from the directorate. Findings of investigations must be concluded timeously, so that those found guilty can be brought to book and officers proven innocent can return back to their posts.”
Cele said when investigations don’t conclude within a reasonable timeframe, the public often thinks that police, who have acted unlawfully, prevail.
Delays in the finalisation of cases will further erode the trust that communities have in the police, the Minister said.