Hawks nab graft accused policeman
DAYS after Police Minister Fikile Mbalula called on the SAPS to up its game, officers swooped on one of their own.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) has arrested a Bayview policeman, who – it says – was stealing state-issued equipment to sell to criminals.
Included in the raft of charges levelled against 46-year-old Warrant Officer Samuel Govindasamy and alleged accomplice 50-year-old Inderaj Bisooncharran, is the theft of 400 rounds of ammunition, 11 bulletproof vests, a police radio and items of SAPS uniform including firearm holsters, trousers, shirts and skirts – from police stations in and around Chatsworth.
They also stand accused of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and pocketing almost R20 000 in ill-gotten gains.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said Govindasamy and Bisooncharran had been arrested following an undercover operation.
“The Hawks Anti-Corruption Task Team ‘worked’ with the duo, posing as criminals,” Mhlongo said.
And, he said, they managed to purchase a large consignment of contraband.
Govindasamy and Bisooncharran appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday, when Val Dafel – the senior state advocate called in to prosecute the two – said their bail would be opposed.
This, Dafel said, was due to the seriousness of the crime.
“And the proliferation of unlawful weapons, a lot of which emanate from the SAPS,” she added.
Acting for the men, lawyer Norman Seppings wanted his clients to be granted bail yesterday, but magistrate Mahomed Motala said the matter had “a huge public interest”.
“It must be heard properly,” he said, before adjourning the case for a formal bail application.
He did accede to Seppings’s request that Govindasamy and Bisooncharran be granted access to medication while in custody.
Seppings had said they were both unwell.
The magistrate also said Govindasamy could be held in isolation because he was a policeman.
The case is due back in court in mid-November and further charges are expected to be added.
Mbalula said last week that while the SAPS’s annual crime statistics showed crimes detected as a result of police action were up, the increase of 9.3% was too small.
He said it was indicative of “lazy efforts by the police” and that they were “letting our people down”.
Gareth Newham, the head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies, said yesterday that it was good to hear the Hawks were making arrests like this.
“Police corruption is a challenge facing all police agencies… When police officials are willing to sell uniforms etc, you have a serious problem.
“You literally have police officials who are no different to the criminals they are meant to be tackling and trying to bring to justice,” Newham said.
“Not only is it putting people at severe risk of being attacked and robbed, it’s giving the police more work and undermining public trust in them.”
Newham was hopeful that, if found guilty, the accused would face a harsh sentence.