- The SAPS has reportedly been ordered to pay more than R140 million in claims.
- The wrongful conduct claims were reportedly paid between January and May this year.
- In addition, the police reportedly paid R9 million in out-of-court settlements.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) was ordered to pay more than R140 million in wrongful conduct claims between January and May, according to a BusinessLive report.
Police Minister Bheki Cele reportedly revealed this in a written reply to a parliamentary question on Friday.
The SAPS has been criticised for heavy-handedness in enforcing Covid-19 lockdown regulations. Amnesty International gave South Africa a scathing assessment for its treatment of citizens during the national lockdown, citing police brutality as one of the ways human rights were infringed upon.
Police came under fire earlier this year for a spate of attacks on civilians, which in some instances, led to death. These include the murder of Mthokozisi Ntumba, a bystander who was shot dead during a protest by Wits University students in Johannesburg. Four officers are on trial for the incident.
Cele reportedly said out-of-court settlements had totalled around R9.4 million during the same period, and that the health department faced medico-legal claims of around R100 million.
More than 1 000 claims against the police service were reportedly adjudicated by the courts in the first five months of the year. The bulk of these claims were in North West (391), followed by Gauteng (228).
According to the report, the payments were not necessarily from claims instituted this year.
Cele reportedly said the claims faced by the police for civil damages, corruption and collusion were a "grave concern" for the SAPS.
He reportedly added that police officers came into close physical contact with citizens due to the nature of their work, and this increased the risk of the SAPS being sued for invasive conduct.
Cele also reportedly said a project to manage civil claims was under review.