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Ipid is an emasculated watchdog‚ says its investigative head

Close up of the SAPS badge on an officer's uniform.
Close up of the SAPS badge on an officer's uniform.

Police officers implicated in corruption are running circles around their internal watchdog‚ the High Court in Cape Town was told on Tuesday.

Matthews Sesoko‚ head of investigations for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate‚ said this was the reason for Ipid’s low conviction rate. Out of thousands of cases‚ it secured only 13 convictions nationally in the 2016/2017 financial year.

Sesoko was asked to paint a picture of police corruption during the sentencing procedures of former Western Cape commissioner Arno Lamoer and three former brigadiers.

He said investigating police was not an easy task because officers were acquainted with criminal investigation processes.

“It becomes very difficult to investigate the police‚” said Sesoko.

“The documentary evidence has to come the police. Our conviction rate on these cases is very low. Witnesses are reluctant to [provide evidence]. You will find most of our cases are closed as unsubstantiated. It is difficult for us to get these matters prosecuted. Not only corruption‚ but also other cases.”

During the 2013/2014 financial year‚ during which Lamoer and his co-accused committed the acts of corruption they have been convicted of‚ Ipid investigated 5 745 cases nationally. Of these‚ 1 254 were from the Western Cape and ranged from deaths in custody and deaths as a result of police action to rape by a police in police custody and corruption.

However‚ Lamoer’s case was investigated by the Hawks‚ which handles some corruption cases involving police.

“We deal with cases that are reported to us‚” said Sisoko. “We are currently investigating former acting national commissioner [Khomotso] Phahlane.

“After we received that complaint‚ we realised the roleplayers and we brought in our counterparts‚ the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [Hawks]. We brought them in for capacity. The Ipid is still a small organisation.”

Lamoer pleaded guilty to corruption‚ relating to public officers accepting or offering to accept gratification‚ in February after a 35-year police career. He faced more than 100 charges of corruption‚ racketeering and money laundering involving about R1.6-million.

He was charged with businessman Salim Dawjee and former brigadiers Sharon Govender‚ her husband Colin Govender and Darius Ross. They initially denied the charges but changed their pleas to guilty. Sharon Govender was acquitted.

In is admission‚ Lamoer said he met Dawjee 25 years ago when he worked at Manenberg police station‚ and they became friends. He said they were there for each other during hard times and admitted that‚ between December 2011 and September 2013‚ he took loans from Dawjee.

Lamoer said he honoured their agreement that he would repay the loans when he retired.

He admitted to “wrongfully and unlawfully” issuing a letter of good standing – on a police letterhead – on behalf of Dawjee to benefit his companies. Colin Govender admitted receiving gratifications worth more than R24 000 from Dawjee and pleaded guilty to one charge of corruption. Van der Ross admitted using Dawjee’s petrol cards to fill up his car for up to R3 324.60.

Dawjee admitted giving Lamoer more than R67 000 and paying gratifications to Govender and Van der Ross. He said Lamoer had repaid the money in full.

Sentencing procedures continue.

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