In a recent case, two police officers, including a senior officer, have been arrested and charged with corruption, defeating the ends of justice, blackmail, and kidnapping. The officers, who were arrested in Witbank, stand accused of detaining thirteen alleged undocumented aliens and demanding a release ransom of R10,000.
According to Mr. Stan Bezuidenhout, a former Specialist Police Reservist and Forensic Specialist with over 22 years of international experience, in cases where law enforcement officials are arrested for illegal activity involving monetary value, they should not be released on bail amounts lower than the amounts extorted, demanded, or collected.
“If a law enforcement officer demands a bribe of R10,000, he should be forced to pay bail equal to that amount,” said Bezuidenhout. “Clearly, the benefit of getting the amount he extorted or demanded is worth more to him than his own job security, serving the public, or protecting the innocent.”
Col. Donald Mdhluli, a police spokesperson, has confirmed that the accused officers had contacted the employer of the detained individuals and demanded payment for their release. When arrangements were made for the payment of the ransom, police swooped in and arrested the three accused, who were identified as Tshidi Anastacia Mamareko (56), Snati Madoda Khumalo (44), and Ambert Ramuchu (41).
Despite the severity of the charges against them, the accused officers were released on bail of only R2,000 and ordered to appear in court again on March 1, 2023. Bezuidenhout believes that this is highly disturbing, as it allows police officers who are implicated in serious crimes to continue with their duties while their trials drag on for years.
He argues that a law enforcement official should be placed on immediate suspension, have their identity documents, uniforms, and all issued gear and equipment confiscated, and only receive the basic remuneration of the lowest rank. They should not be allowed to work outside of any police station until all charges are dropped or they are found not guilty. He says that the “back pay” that they lose for the duration of the trial and until they are proven innocent in a court of law can always be paid back to them. He believes that the current system and the way in which serious criminal transgressions by law enforcement officers are treated is not an adequate deterrent.