Eastern Cape cops face R2.3bn in civil claims

File Pic: Weziwe Tikana
File Pic: Weziwe Tikana
Image: Werner Hills

Police in the Eastern Cape are facing civil claims of more than R2.3bn, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana has revealed.

Responding to questions from DA MPL Bobby Stevenson, Tikana said the claims emanated from alleged wrongful arrests and detention, assault, defamation, negligence, shooting, search and seizures, and loss of or damage to property.

Tikana said for the past three financial years, police in the Eastern Cape had paid almost R120m in civil claims, with a majority of the claims relating to wrongful arrests and detention.

Over the last financial year, an amount of R45m was paid to claimants.

The R45m payout was up by R6m from the last financial year, when the police forked out R39m in civil claims during the 2017/2018 period.

That figure was up from the 2016/2017 financial year, when the police paid out R34m.

In her response, Tikana gave a breakdown of the R45m payout over the last year:

● R26.1m for unlawful arrest and detention;

● R7.3m for shootings;

● R3.3m for general damages;

● R2.2m for negligence;

● R2.1m for assault;

● R1.3m for search and seizure; and

● R1.1m for collisions.

Of the overall R2.3bn in pending claims, Tikana said R1.9bn of the claims had been made for alleged unlawful arrest and detection, while a further R114m related to police shootings.

On Thursday, Stevenson said the police needed to account to the provincial legislature on what steps were in place to stop the increasing trend of police payouts.

“This is an extremely disturbing trend, which underlines the importance of the need for a culture of human rights awareness and professionalism in the Eastern Cape South African Police Service.

“The breakdown of claims paints a picture of a police service that is clearly not upholding the law and respecting the rights of people,” Stevenson said.

Tikana said measures were in place to reduce the claims and included awareness campaigns, the monitoring of monthly claim reports, consequential management of members and commanders being assessed on civil claims brought against them.

Stevenson said he wanted to make the police an effective crime fighting machine with a focus on fighting corruption, retraining police officers, hiring people with a passion for policing, instituting effective drugbusting efforts and bringing back the specialised anti-gang units.

“Safety and security plays a critical role in economic growth and development,” he said.

“No-go areas for business because of high crime rates destroy jobs.”

Asked if the police were doing anything to curb the number of claims, Tikana said successful and adverse judgments were discussed at their management meetings to create greater awareness among members.

They had also recommended that disciplinary action be taken against members found to have been negligent, she said.