Eastern Cape cops face claims of R2.3bn, most for wrongful arrest

Image: Elvis Ntombela

There are currently R2.3bn pending claims against the police in the Eastern Cape, ranging from wrongful arrest to damages from shootings.

This was contained in a parliamentary response by the province’s MEC for safety and liaison Weziwe Tikana to a DA question.

The department has paid over R45m in similar claims in the 2018/19 financial year. This is R6m more than what the department paid in the previous year and almost R11m more than what was paid in the 2016/17 financial year.

This, according to the DA’s shadow MEC Bobby Stevenson, is a very disturbing trend “which underlines the importance of the need for a human rights culture and professional SAPS in the Eastern Cape”.

“The breakdown of claims paints a picture of a police service that is clearly not upholding the law and respecting the rights of people,” he said.

In the 2018/19 financial year, the department paid:

  • R26.1m for wrongful arrest and detention;
  • R7.3m for damages resulting from shooting incidents;
  • R3.3m for general damages caused by the police;
  • R2.2m for negligence;
  • R2.1m for assault;
  • R1.3m for wrongful search and seizure;
  • R1.1m for collisions

Stevenson said that the MEC had to come up with a plan on how she was going to deal with this trend.

“People do not feel safe in their homes and communities are living in fear of the criminal element. From the ganglands of the northern areas of Port Elizabeth to the rural towns and villages, there is a cry for safer streets,” he said.

In breaking down the total R2.3bn claims the department is yet to pay, Tikana said that there was over R1.9bn claims against the police for wrongful arrest and detention to this day and just under R53m in assault.

Tikana said that there were measures put in place to have police officials personally pay for claims, especially in circumstances where gross negligence has been proven.

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