Advocacy group, Corruption Watch, has launched an interactive web-based tool, called Veza, to enable the public to report any corruption or misconduct by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS).  The organisation hopes this will help curb corruption by law enforcement personnel.

Corruption Watch says numerous complaints from whistle blowers about allegations of corruption by police officers prompted it to create the platform, where people can just log on and report any offences by law enforcement personnel.  The offences could include anything from bribery to sextortion.  Head of Stakeholder Relations and Campaigns at Corruption Watch, Kavisha Pillay, says Veza is not a mobile app and you don’t need data to log onto the website using a smart phone.

“We don’t want this to be sitting with a small group of people; we want widespread penetration of this tool in the most vulnerable communities, so that people can utilise its resources. Accessibility is a huge issue for us and that’s why now that we have the tool that’s live, the next prioritisation is to make sure that it is data free. You can just log on and be able to access and be able to report and it’s not going to charge you any data,” Pillay says.

Pillay elaborates on Veza:

The web-based tool features interactive maps of police corruption trends and hotspots as well as information on all of the 1 150 police stations across the country. The interactive tool is designed to improve transparency and accountability in policing in the country. Pillay says it is an opportunity for the police to embrace public access to information. She says it could build public confidence in the police.

“We do want to be able to show the SAPS that this is how this can be used for the SAPS as a whole. We want to see that this is quite a useful resource for them as well. There’s often this antagonism and there’s this distrust that exists and putting this information in the public domain, we are hoping that it will start bridging those gaps and facilitate more co-operative community policing.”

Veza also enables users to rate and review the overall service at police stations, compare resources of different stations.

Researcher with the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, says, “We use that information to have discussions at basis at police stations, at police community forums. This is how many vehicles we have, this is how many people we have, and this is why we are prioritising these resources we have. It really provides a strong foundation to improve community policing in South Africa”

The Vesa tool aims to strengthen the role of the public and civil society in calling for change in the SAPS.

Researcher Melusi Ncala talks about the increase in corruption: