Hawks nab graft ac­cused po­lice­man

The Mercury - - NEWS - Ber­nadette Wol­huter

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.

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