Africa

South African police with records 'must be sacked'

Police observer striking farm workers in South Africa's Western Cape province on 9 January 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption South Africa's police have been accused of police brutality on occasion

South Africa's main opposition party has called for the sacking of close to 1,500 police officers who it has been revealed have criminal records.

The officers have been implicated in a range of crimes, the results from a two-year audit announced by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa show.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said the revelations were "embarrassing".

The report has been referred to the police chief for a decision on what action to be taken, Mr Mthethwa said

Police commissioner Riah Phiyega should make her decision by October, the minister said in a statement on Sunday.

But Dianne Kohler-Barnard, the DA's shadow police minister, said immediate action should be taken against the 1,448 serving officers.

"It's hugely embarrassing, the standard procedure seems to have been ignored over the years," South Africa's Eyewitness News quotes Ms Kohler-Barnard as saying.

The audit process had revealed serious challenges with regard to the management of discipline within the police, the minister's statement said.

The audit had taken longer than expected because the ministry wanted to ensure it was thorough, it added.

"This is a legal process where everyone will be given an opportunity to state his or her side of the story. That said, our resolve to root out any unwanted elements within the police will never be deterred by anything, no matter how long and what it takes," Mr Mthethwa said.

There are a number of cases involving officers currently before the police watchdog the Independent Police Investigation Directorate including murder, rape, robbery, assault and corruption.

The most high-profile police official to be found guilty of a criminal offence is former police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

He was found guilty of corruption and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, he is currently out on medical parole following kidney problems.

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