City breaks JMPD report silenceFriday, 29/06/2012 - 16:44
The City of Joburg has responded to Corruption Watch following our making them the "zero of the week" on Friday 29 June. In the response, Khanya Umlaw of the city manager's office said that the city would soon announce a number of important steps to address bribery and corruption in the Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) as part of a broader strategy to improve law enforcement. This would include some of the recommendations made in the JMPD report, which was published by Corruption Watch in April this year. Read the full response here.
This is what we wrote on Friday 29 June:
It’s been two months since Corruption Watch publicised its hard-hitting report on bribery and corruption within Johannesburg’s Metro Police Department (JMPD) and the city has yet to respond to the recommendations made in the document – such lack of engagement and cooperation has earned the city and its administration the title “zero of the week”. Listen to our clip which recently aired on Jacaranda FM.
The clearly outlined recommendations, widely publicised at the time of the report launch on 23 April and in the ensuing weeks, urged the city to take responsibility for addressing corruption.
“The magnitude of the problem must be acknowledged and be treated with the seriousness and the urgency it demands,” Corruption Watch stated.
What we recommended
Furthermore, the organisation asked that all traffic officers begin wearing visible identification and that the city set up channels for the public and JMPD officers to report corruption confidentially.
It also requested that corruption-reporting mechanisms be publicised widely; that field integrity tests be conducted to gather evidence for disciplinary measures; sting operations be done to identify corrupt cops; and that anti-corruption public campaigns – supported by the mayor, unions and taxi associations – be introduced.
The responses we have received from the city
The day the report was launched, Monday 23 April, the city issued a press statement headed “Joburg City welcomes corruption report”.
The communique read: “Many measures identified in the report as well as others, are already in place to prevent and eliminate such activity. Management will also thoroughly review the report and implement controls and recommendations. We will also ensure that controls are in place to implement any other issues arising from the report.”
It further urged communities to report corruption on its 24-hour toll-free line: 0800 203 712. This number was then published on Corruption Watch’s website homepage.
On Thursday 26 April the office of councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe, member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for public safety at the City of Johannesburg, issued a further statement in response to the arrest of a JMPD officer who had allegedly solicited a R1 000 bribe from a motorist.
“In due course the office of the MMC will release a dedicated cellphone number and an email address to the public to report misconduct and corruption of metro police officers and Joburg emergency management services,” the statement read.
“This intervention will not overshadow the current existing crime line but it will help the public to report crime instantly as to enable her office to directly deal with such complains and provide answers and solutions.”
The last response on JMPD matters came from the city on 17 May. The press release confirmed that an officer had been arrested for soliciting a R1 000 bribe from a motorist in April, and that the cop “had been handed to the police”.
The press release also outlined the latest on the Ivory Park hawker assault case, which Corruption Watch covered thoroughly.
But since then there has been no word from the city.
Corruption Watch applauds the city’s willingness to discuss the individual cases of the Ivory Park cops and the cop arrested for soliciting a R1 000 bribe, but is still most frustrated by its lack of official, overarching response to the April JMPD report recommendations.
The promise made in April that city “management will also thoroughly review the report and implement controls and recommendations”, has still not been met – neither has the promise to release and publicise a dedicated cellphone number and an email address to which the public can report cases of JMPD bribery and corruption.
Corruption Watch writes to the city manager
On Monday 25 June, almost two months to the say since the JMPD report release, Corruption Watch director David Lewis wrote to city manager Trevor Fowler.
In the letter Lewis stated that Corruption Watch had made several attempts to set up a meeting with Fowler to discuss the city’s reaction to its report – and asked Fowler’s administration to state its response to the recommendations.
“Regrettably your office has proved thoroughly uncooperative. At first your office indicated that you were out of the country and that you would contact us on your return. This did not happen. Several further requests from us have borne no fruit,” Lewis added.
By Thursday 28 June, Corruption Watch was still waiting for a response to this message. Had a detailed reply not been possible, Corruption Watch would have expected, at least, an acknowledgement of receipt.
Corruption Watch contacts the city’s spokesperson
Corruption Watch contacted city spokesperson Gabu Tugwana on Thursday 28 June, specifically to ask why the city had failed to respond. Tugwana said that he was not, this week, in a position to issue a response of behalf of the administration as people “at a higher level” were busy with a municipal road show – and had been for the entire month of June.
He said that the matter of the road show had been communicated with Corruption Watch, however, the civil society organisation confirmed on Thursday that they had never received any such message.
Tugwana said that the road show would be completed by the end of the month and that all relevant players would be back at their desks on Monday 2 July, when he promised a response to Corruption Watch.
Encouraging response from other traffic authorities
In stark contrast to the City of Johannesburg’s silence, Corruption Watch has been contacted by other national and metropolitan traffic authorities since the report release. These organisations have expressed their keenness to cooperate with Corruption Watch in confronting bribery in traffic policing in their respective jurisdictions.
In particular, Corruption Watch has received a positive response from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), which has undertaken to address the recommendations made in the report. The RTMC is a national government body in charge of creating the traffic law enforcement code.
“Regrettably, the only people and institutions that appear unconcerned about the report and uninterested in its recommendations are those Johannesburg public servants and institutions charged with responsibility for traffic policing and its oversight,” Lewis says.
On a more positive note, Corruption Watch recently tested the city’s existing hotline number 0800 203 712, and received a most helpful and efficient response. The organisation therefore continues to urge the public to use this mechanism to report all incidences of corruption and bribery relating to JMPD officers.