On duty gambling cop spared the chop
A DURBAN police officer who was bust gambling at a casino while on duty – a dismissible offence – was allegedly only slapped with a written warning. The probe into police vehicle abuse has since been extended to all police stations within the Chatsworth police cluster, including Brighton Beach, Bayview, Malvern, Bellair, Chatsworth and Montclair police stations.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that investigation had been ordered by acting provincial commissioner Major-General Bheki Langa. This follows complaints that the personal use of vehicles at police stations within the Chatsworth cluster has spiralled out of control. According to a whistle-blower, who asked to remain anonymous, a Chatsworth policeman, Warrant Officer Poovendren Ganesh Gounden was recently caught red-handed by two senior officers and a colonel at Sibaya casino gambling during work hours. “I saw him at the casinos and family outings with the state vehicle,” said the whistle-blower. “He frequented Sibaya, Suncoast and Gold Rush casinos during working hours when he was supposed to be doing investigation duties.” It is alleged that Gounden’s gambling habits started last year. After the whistle-blower lodged a complaint an investigation led by a Lieutenant Colonel Myaka was conducted.
During the investigation Gounden, was allegedly caught on CCTV footage visiting Sibaya casino on a day he was supposed be on duty in February.. The report states security at the casino checked footage in the presence of Myaka.
They all identified Gounden driving through the gate. Gounden was later seen gambling in the casino. The whistle-blower said although Gounden was found guilty of misconduct, he was only given a written warning, whereas another officer faced dismissal after being found guilty of using a police vehicle for personal use.“Why this discrepancy?” asked the whistle-blower, who has also fingered a senior officer, in charge of detectives within the Chatsworth cluster of using a state vehicle to go gambling at slot machines at Savera Hotel in Chatsworth. While Gounden declined to comment, Zwane said Gounden’s case was being reviewed as part of a broader probe into the abuse of police vehicles.“The commissioner is reviewing the departmental investigation and has appointed a senior officer with a team to holistically investigate the abuse of the state vehicles in Chatsworth,” Zwane said.
This comes after an intervention by the Democratic Alliance deputy shadow minister of police, Dianne Kohler Barnard who had also expressed concerns about the outcome of Gounden’ case. “He was supposed to be made to pay back all the hours he spent at the casino. “I am most perturbed that the matter was swept under the carpet to protect him by wiping away evidence. Police protect one another. We need to establish an independent team from another province to reopen the investigation on Gounden,” she said. Barnard said she had also been sent a flood of photographs of “cops misusing vehicles– fetching kids from schools and shopping at malls”. In responding to Barnard’s queries in February, National Police Commissioner, General Kehla Sitole, wrote: “The allegations against personnel at the Chatsworth Cluster . . . are regarded as serious. In view of the nature of the alleged misconduct and the senior ranks occupied by the members who are allegedly involved, a departmental investigation has been instituted. .”Barnard said the fact Gounden had subsequently only been given written warning, spoke volumes about the police commitment to dealing the problem.
The whistle-blower said Gounden was still driving police vehicles.