Custody deaths, cop crimes on rise

The number of deaths in police custody or as a result of police action increased by 11percent since last year, a report by the Independent Complaints Directorate revealed yesterday.

The number of deaths in police custody or as a result of police action increased by 11percent since last year, a report by the Independent Complaints Directorate revealed yesterday.

A total of 698 deaths occurred between April last year and March, compared to 621 in 2005-6.

Gauteng recorded the most deaths at 169, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 153.

The Northern Cape recorded the lowest number of deaths at 13.

The figures were contained in the ICD's annual report presented to Parliament on September 28.

Of the 698 deaths, 108 were from natural causes, 94 suicides and 141 occurred when suspects were shot during arrest. There were 44 vehicle accidents involving police and four innocent bystanders shot.

"Perhaps police need to exercise more restraint when it comes to vehicle accidents as this area increased by 32percent," senior manager of information management and research at ICD, Moses Dlamini, said.

ICD executive director Patrick Mongwe said there was a 2percent increase in complaints received by the ICD compared to last year.

The majority of complaints - 51percent - were for misconduct by police, with complaints of criminal offences by police taking up 33percent.

The number of criminal offences committed by police also increased from 1643 to 1787.

These included 70 cases of corruption, 198 of attempted murder, 132 of abuse of power and 25 of pointing a firearm. - Sapa

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