Eastern Cape police officials are the most trigger-happy in South Africa, according to the latest police watchdog report.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (Ipid) annual report is to be presented in parliament tomorrow.
The report, compiled using data from between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, says 628 cases were opened against Eastern Cape police officials for investigation.
This means the Eastern Cape is the province with the fifth-highest number of investigations against officials.
The Western Cape had the highest number with a total of 1 099 cases, followed by Gauteng with 800, Kwazulu-Natal with 794 and the Free State with 724.
Nationally, 216 people died while in police custody over the year. Of those, 29 died in the Eastern Cape.
Of the 628 cases in the Eastern Cape, 192 are shooting incidents involving police officials – the highest number of investigations of the discharge of state firearms across the country.
In the Eastern Cape, 40 investigations of deaths related to police action, with 42 people dying, were opened.
There were also 14 cases of torture. The report says 17 rape cases against Eastern Cape police officials were opened.
Of those, 10 involved police officials who were on duty.
A breakdown of internal and criminal convictions as a result of Ipid’s investigations showed that 10 Eastern Cape police officials were departmentally convicted, two officers for murder, two for rape, five for tor ture and one for discharging a state firearm.
Action taken by police top brass remains sketchy, with the two police officials – one from New Brighton and another from Ugie police stations – fired for murder, while another police official from Queenstown was dismissed for rape.
The report states that an officer from the Elliot police station was given a written warning for rape, while another five – from the Ntabankulu, Maclear, Middleburg police stations – got written warnings for torture.
Provincial police spokeswoman Brigadier Marinda Mills said on the warning given to the official for rape that their records showed the official had been found not guilty.
Mills said it was “unfair to label our officials as too quick to use their firearms ” as deaths as a result of police action were in fact down by 23% in the province.