cops fail lie test over R3,75 m DRUGS

TWO of the 24 police officers from the Mpumalanga organised crime unit, redeployed after the disappearance of drugs with a street value of R3,75million, have failed a lie detector test.

TWO of the 24 police officers from the Mpumalanga organised crime unit, redeployed after the disappearance of drugs with a street value of R3,75million, have failed a lie detector test.

Safety and security MEC Sibongile Manana said yesterday that a constable and a sergeant had failed the lie detector test, raising the possibility that they might reveal the whereabouts of the drugs.

But Johan Burger of the Institute of Security Studies said: "The only worth of the test is to give an indication of possibilities, a direction that investigators can work on.

"It simply suggests that they should further investigate the possible involvement of the individuals but it is useless as evidence."

Provincial police commissioner Rex Machavi's spokes person Captain Leonard Hlathi said the two policemen had not beensuspended as some reports had indicated yesterday.

"We do not suspend people in the light of lie detector tests because there are many factors involved in the investigations of any case," Hlathi said yesterday.

Manana's spokesperson, Joseph Mabuza, reiterated Hlathi's statement.

He dismissed media reports that Manana had suspended the officers.

"The two policemen failed the lie detector test but it is not true that they have been suspended," Mabuza said.

But an independent polygraph examiner, Dave Johnston of Davian Polygraph Services, said if handled by a competent examiner a lie detector test was more than 90percent accurate.

But the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) differed with Johnston on this.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said: "Polygraph evidence is totally inadmissible in a court of law. As far as I know, the NPA has never relied on or attempted to present polygraph evidence."

However, he said "it can be used as an investigative tool to test the reliability of a witness".

Police at the Lebombo border post confiscated the drugs that were hidden in a secret compartment in a truck three months ago. The truck was being driven by Isufo Pirgy, who is out on R3000 bail.

The drugs were handed to the police organised crime unit in Nelspruit but hardly six days later they vanished from the police safe.

Machavi first threatened to remove all the unit members if they failed to recover the drugs within 30 days, but removed them 15 days later.

The provincial police management had since handed the case over to their national counterparts.

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