“Life-endangering corruption” allegations against IPID investigators

“Life-endangering corruption” allegations against IPID investigators

Professor Mary de Haas, a veteran police and violence monitor, has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to initiate a judicial inquiry into corruption allegations against Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) officers.

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By Chris Steyn

Veteran police- and violence monitor Professor Mary de Haas has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to urge an immediate judicial inquiry into “serious and life-endangering corruption” allegations against Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) officers.

She also sent a letter to Parliament – the Police and the Justice Portfolio Committees – copied to the Speaker and others – in which she details “well substantiated allegations” against IPID investigators in KZN. 

Drawing the President’s attention to that letter, De Haas writes: “You will note that they are accused of collusion with a man arrested and denied bail on charges of sending hitmen to kill his estranged wife and known criminals linked to this man. These criminals are also allegedly implicated in a conspiracy to kill a magistrate.”

She tells the President that the accusations against a group of KZN IPID investigators are far too serious for them to be handled by IPID itself – and that only an independent judicial inquiry would suffice.

De Haas describes the latest accusations as “the proverbial last straw in many years of a litany of my complaints against IPID”.

“Please note especially the failure of the Durban office to charge and convict torturers and killers in the police, even when they have been supplied with expert forensic evidence.”

She also informs President Ramaphosa that IPID was recently given information about fraud in the admission of student constables, in that applicants who had paid bribes were reportedly admitted, despite not having passed competency tests. “Over a year later, despite unofficial confirmation of irregularities, there have been no reports of arrests of criminal applicants or complicit police having been charged.”

De Haas tells the President that he and his government seem “determined  to destroy what remains of good, professional policing in South Africa”. 

She says it is “completely unacceptable” that there is absolutely no independent oversight of IPID, “so the Directorate can carry on allowing torturers and killers (including of other police members) in the SAPS to continue their nefarious activities with impunity, because they are not successfully prosecuted”. 

She also pleads with the President not not to sign into law the IPID Bill, which leaves the power to appoint the head of IPID in the hands of whoever is Minister of Police. “Allowing the minister responsible for policing to engage in any way in the appointment of an oversight body is completely contrary to the way in which police oversight bodies are appointed internationally in other democracies, as detailed in my submissions about recent versions of this bill,” she points out. 

“Unfortunately, the government you head apparently lacks any understanding of the crucial legal and moral principle of conflict of interest. It reflects extremely badly on Parliament that it has passed this legislation since it does not meet the criteria for independence of the Directorate, and shows contempt for the order from the highest court in South Africa – which you, too, will stand accused of if you sign it into law.”

In her letter to Parliament, De Haas further details allegations of IPID members in KZN “deliberately” defeating the ends of justice by bringing “malicious” cases against a top detective, apparently in collusion with criminals connected to the man who was arrested by that detective and his colleagues for murdering his wife. 

“The detective in question is Sgt Sibusiso Kunene, whose life is known to already be under threat from criminals he is investigating and who are connected to others he has obtained criminal convictions for. These threats have existed for at least two years, as I had to intervene on his behalf with management members about his safety in 2022. 

“He is a prominent member of the Amajuba District Tracing Team in KZN whose successes contributed to this Team, through its commitment and dedication, and success rate, being selected as 1st Runner Up in the category High Risk Team of the Year at the 2024  SAPS National Excellence Awards. 

“He (like other competent detectives) had been removed from investigations into political killings when his investigations into a prominent provincial politician threatened to bear fruit. Some of the known criminals responsible for these current threats are connected to the taxi industry and its hitmen – including notorious Nongoma-based criminals. Kunene’s investigations into these hitmen is ongoing and, in itself, dangerous work. It is alleged that the intention of IPID is to ensure that he is removed from his investigative work. If that allegation should prove correct, they would be aiding and abetting dangerous, well-armed criminals.”

De Haas describes how IPID members “may not even attend crime scenes before they have been ‘cleaned’ by police who shoot people, let alone engage themselves in securing the scene, as they should do”. 

She adds: “Errant police who do not report to IPID before interfering with scenes are not sanctioned. I have been reliably informed that hundreds of police killings have been registered as ‘inquests’ and never properly investigated, and that is why most police who kill people know they can carry on doing so with impunity.”

De Haas appeals to Parliament to support her call to the President to establish an immediate judicial inquiry into “this seriously malfunctioning office which is able to break the law with impunity because it is not subject to any proper oversight”.

* Read Professor De Haas’ letters to President Ramaphosa and Parliament here:

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