n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - The curse of corruption in the South African Police : a rot from within

Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



There is a dark underside to the ethics of policing which is all too seldom discussed or exposed. Corruption appears to be rife in the various sectors of the Criminal Justice System, more specifically the South African Police Service. We only have to consult the media to determine the level of dishonesty and corruption in the South African Police Service (SAPS). Police corruption has become very topical following the conviction of former South African Police National Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, this year. Police corruption is however not limited to South Africa. It is an evil that is encountered throughout the world. It is accepted that police corruption is an occupational hazard. The more police corruption becomes the norm, the more policing resources are diverted from tackling the monster 'crime', which threatens to cripple our new found democracy. In the fight against police corruption the Police themselves have a primordial role to play. This article will examine the concept 'police corruption', the legislative framework pertaining to corruption, the common causes and forms of corruption that exist in the South African Police Service, as well as what is known about the state of corruption in the South African Police Service, rooting it in local and international literature on police corruption. This article will further emphasise the critical importance of changing the police organisational culture to combat corruption. This is based on the premise that punitive and reactive approaches, focusing primarily on investigations and prosecutions, are not in themselves adequate measures to tackle the endemic police corruption curse. Finally, this article will propose recommendations and preventative measures based on relevant legislative, local and international anti-corruption instruments.

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