TWO police officers stationed at the Hillcrest police station are under investigation for allegedly defeating the ends of justice and for not following correct procedures and disregarding evidence at a crime scene.
The charges were opened against the officers by two concerned and angry residents. One of them was a Waterfall 3 patroller and the other a resident whose home was robbed.
Four residents and Waterfall 3 reaction members, Graeme Webb, Karen Buxton, Wayne Burwood and Gavin Botes, were searching for a man who allegedly gained access into a property on MacMac Drive in Waterfall on Saturday, 20 January around 2pm.
They were on Inanda Road when they received information about the man heading in their direction.
According to Buxton, Burwood first noticed a man running out of Crestholme Drive pushing a wheelbarrow full of goods and alerted the other patrols.
“The man seemed tense and as we approached him, he left the wheelbarrow loaded with goods and ran into the surrounding bushes on Inanda Road. We caught him but he attempted to escape by fighting me. He ran onto Inanda Road where he was run over by a car travelling towards Hillcrest from Molweni,” said Buxton.
She said the man suffered an injury to his arm as he knocked the side mirror of the vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle stopped but appeared quite shocked at what happened and said he had not seen the man run out of the bushes and straight onto the road.
Alan Cutten from CEMS was called to assist as well as SAPS.
Cutten requested a provincial ambulance as he believed the man could have suffered a possible fracture to the arm.
“A SAPS vehicle from Hillcrest police station arrived and two police officers, who were driving the white double cab, proceeded to put the stolen items in the back of the vehicle.
They also put the man in the back seat of the vehicle.
“At the scene they (the police officers) agreed the items had been stolen from someone’s property. They then wanted to leave. I told them, they needed to take our details as well as witnesses’ statements, but they refused. I asked how they were going to open a case without this and they just got into their vehicle and left. They did not take any information down,” said Buxton.
She said while still at the scene with the two police officers, a message had come through that the items stolen were from a Crestholme member’s house and the officers were notified.
Despite having this information, the officers left.
“The provincial ambulance arrived a short while after the SAPS vehicle had left and we told them that the man had been taken to Hillcrest police station already and that they must proceed to the police station which they did. On their arrival at Hillcrest SAPS, they were told the man had escaped. Police told paramedics the man asked to go to the bathroom and escaped. The police have no idea who the man is, where he is from and so on.”
Buxton said she had a photo of the man which police were aware of but they never asked her for it.
“I feel these police officers had every intention of releasing the man and no intention of charging him as the correct procedure had not been followed. No information was requested at the scene, no witness statements were taken, no contact details were taken from the driver who had knocked over the man when the man attempted to escape, no docket was opened and no preamble to the statement,” said Buxton.
Unfortunately, Buxton said she was not given the names of the two police officers at the scene. However, Vispol commander, Colonel Greg Joseph of the Hillcrest SAPS is fully aware of who these two police officers are.
“This is not the first incident of this nature. This has been an ongoing problem that we keep experiencing with Hillcrest police station over the years. I keep getting called to give statements regarding the police officers when I complain to Colonel Joseph, but nothing is being done about it and the same police officers keep working.
“I feel the station commander is just trying to appease me by taking a statement. I eventually get told they have done an internal investigation and the police officers have been dealt with. When I push for more details, I get told it has been dealt with and to leave it alone,” said Buxton.
She added that Hillcrest is experiencing extremely high levels of crime at the moment and the Hillcrest police station has done nothing about this.
“In some cases, we have had CCTV camera footage of suspects as well as fingerprints and weeks later no one has done anything. We have given photos of the suspects who are breaking into properties to Hillcrest police station as well as supplied numerous CAS numbers and information of where the stolen goods are being sold and we have received no follow-up and no one has assisted us with an investigation into this,” said Buxton.
She requested a full investigation into the Hillcrest police station and the two police officers.
Three days later, Buxton met with Colonel Joseph and he confirmed the two police officers did not want to do the paperwork, so they released the man and told him to go.
“This is unacceptable as we are experiencing high levels of crime in Waterfall and Crestholme areas and this suspect was in possession of a large amount of stolen property.
“Hillcrest police station are releasing a large number of suspects and our local taxpaying residents are getting extremely angry. We cannot rely on Hillcrest police station for assistance and to uphold the law.”
Peter Dennison, the homeowner whose goods were stolen from Crestholme, has also opened a case of theft against the same two police officers. Although some of his items have been booked into the police’s SAP 13 division where stolen goods are stored, Dennis said that his rug was missing. He believes that the police officers stole it.
Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, communications officer for the KZN SAPS said: “There is a criminal case of defeating the ends of justice that has been opened for investigation against the alleged members. The same docket will be transferred to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) for further investigation.”