Police to prioritise background checks on new hires


    DURBAN – A police officer who allegedly shot and killed a young Inanda man, previously served a five-year sentence for assault.

    Zwakele Hlongwa died, reportedly after getting into an argument with the officer over a torch.It comes as the police union Popcru said it is worried about the number of serving officers who have criminal records.The national police commissioner says vetting processes are being tightened.

    Earlier this year, it emerged that over 4,000 police officers have criminal records and among them are senior managers.

    Richard Mamabolo, Popcru spokesperson, said, “we’ve since had commissioners who were obviously appointed into positions and just outside that you realise they’ve got certain cases that they still need to deal with and that has obviously been a setback for policing in general and has also degenerated the morale of police”.

    While Ipid is investigating Hlongwa’s death, it says screening and hiring are the relevant employer’s responsibility — in this case, the SAPS.

    Khehla Sithole, the National Police Commissioner is admitting vetting officers hasn’t always been a priority and said SAPS would be re-looking at the human resources policy framework to link the vetting legislation to it.

    But while police try to get the vetting process in order, there are officers in uniform who might not be trusted to serve and protect.