Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rape cops still on the job

A Cape Town police detective captain accused of raping his teenage daughter is still on the beat investigating criminal cases pending his court case.

Sources within the Kuils River Community Policing Forum (CPF) said the forum was outraged that the policeman has not been suspended.

The 45-year-old detective is the third officer accused of rape at the same Cape-based police station.

The first two - one a police constable and the other a student constable - were suspended about three months ago after they were charged with raping a woman while on duty.

Sources close to the police said that the detective captain had not been suspended because he was not in uniform at the time of the incident.

The detective, who cannot be named until he has pleaded, was charged with rape in September.

Police sources said the charge sheet showed that the detective went to his home on September 3 where he confronted his daughter.

"The charge sheet said he then forced his daughter to have sex with him against her will. He also penetrated her with his fingers," a source at the police station said.

The accused, who at the time was a detective captain at another police station - has since been transferred to another police station due to a shortage of skills, said provincial police spokesperson Superintendent Billy Jones.

The move has infuriated the CPF who said that the captain's pending trial - in addition to the two other constables' case - was detrimental to the relationship between the community and the police.

"How am I expected to explain to the community that this man is working here? They are up in arms that he is working here and we can't get any answers as to why he hasn't been suspended along with the other two officers," said a CPF source, who declined to be named.

The source questioned how the community was expected to trust police officers charged with such crimes.

The CPF source said the police station's involvement in the 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children was a "farce" considering that senior members charged with sexual offences.

He added that the CPF was told that the constables were suspended because they were in uniform at the time of the alleged crime while the detective was dressed in civilian clothes.

Commenting on the matter, Jones said before officers are suspended, police management look at the strength of the witnesses' statements before determining which action to take.

He said the constables being in uniform at the time of the alleged incident was not taken into account.

"The suspension or temporary transfer of the officer was considered in terms of the SAPS disciplinary regulations.

The employee was also given the opportunity to make a written representation - a decision was taken not to suspend the employee at this stage."

Jones added that a disciplinary hearing would take place as soon as the Director of Public Prosecutions gave permission for the witnesses in the court case to testify in the disciplinary hearing.

Jones said he was unaware of the constables' case but that there was probably prima facie evidence against them, but not against the detective.

DA spokesperson on community safety Lennit Max said the police code of conduct did not differentiate between ranks.

"The disciplinary code is applicable to everyone and I can't understand why the detective has not been suspended because as a SAPS member, he is a custodian of the Constitution and an instrument of government meant to protect citizens."

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa also told the Cape Argus that there was no threat to rape investigations as these were dealt with by the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit.

But Max rubbished this statement, saying that detectives did not always wait for the FCS before arresting a suspect.

"I'm not saying he is guilty but considering that there is an upcoming trial, there is prima facie evidence and he should be removed from a place of authority until the criminal proceedings come to a halt."

Earlier this year the Cape Argus reported on the public outcry after a Khayelitsha-based constable, convicted of indecent assault after fondling a gang-rape victim, was redeployed at his station.

He was later transferred to court duty in another area. At the time, Chantel Cooper, director of Rape Crisis Cape Town, said the attitude of the police officer and his reinstatement was "likely to deter even more women from coming forward to report rape and sexual violent crime".

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