On duty gam­bling cop spared the chop

The Sunday Independent - - News - NKU­L­ULEKO NENE

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.

nku­l­uleko.nene@inl.co.za

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