The management of the Tzaneen police station has cheated its way to the top, Sowetan has established.
Two years ago the station was rated number 600 in a list of top performers. But it now heads the list as the country's best performer in crime fighting.
A Sowetan investigation has discovered that since the appointment two years ago of head of the station, Assistant Commissioner Khazamula Phineas Ngobeni, serious crimes, which had the potential to damage the station's image, were manipulated to portray it as one of the best performers.
Before he was appointed head of the station Ngobeni was head of crime prevention at SAPS headquarters in Pretoria.
At the centre of the controversy are allegations that Ngobeni instructed subordinates to underplay the seriousness of the crimes.
For instance, a murder case would be "downgraded" to an inquest and housebreaking to trespassing.
A highly placed source told Sowetan that a station is evaluated in terms of the number of serious cases it handles, so when a particular station records many serious cases it is not regarded as performing up to standard.
For instance, when a station records more than 100 cases of housebreaking the station should have arrested at least 50 percent of the suspects.
The source said the station's police officers were working hard to bring suspects to book but were demoralised by Ngobeni's "bullying" tactics.
Ngobeni allegedly told his officers to attend to crime scenes and open cases but not to register these in the system.
Sowetan is in possession of documents that prove that cases had been opened but not registered. The cases range from murder, common robbery, theft from motor vehicles, housebreaking and burglary to assault.
"We are not allowed to work to the best of our abilities," complained the source.
He said more than 300 cases were reported in a month but not registered, allegedly at Ngobeni's instructions. Many of the station's officers have become fed up with the situation.
"How do you rate a cheating station the best in the country?" asked an angry police officer who wished to remain anonymous.
One of the victims of crime, head of the nearby Nkowa Nkowa police station who lives in Tzaneen, had his house broken into in January and several items stolen, including state property.
But Sowetan has established that the case has never seen the light of day.
Ngobeni could not be reached for comment. Provincial police spokesman Senior Superintendent Motlafela Mojapelo said yesterday a team, led by Deputy Provincial Commissioner Benny Ntlemeza, was investigating the allegations. So far no results have been made available.
"Once the results are available we will make them public," said Mojapelo.