SAPS paid over R2 billion for wrongful arrests since 2018

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The South African Police Service (SAPS) has disbursed more than R2 billion in compensating civil claims related to wrongful arrests and detentions since 2018.

This disclosure came from Police Minister Bheki Cele during his response to a question posed by Democratic Alliance (DA) member Andrew Whitfield in Parliament.

SAPS has witnessed a 52% surge in civil claims over the past five years, with settlements amounting to R406 million in the last three quarters of 2023/2024 alone.

Jacob Mofokeng, a Safety and Security Professor at Tshwane University of Technology, attributes this trend to the pressure on police to make arrests.

“With crime, especially violent crime being prevalent in SA, the SAPS often have to make quick decisions in an attempt to be proactive. And, yes, in the process of conducting their activities, mistakes do happen. However, it is an entirely different story when police do not conduct a thorough investigation. So, these kinds of (incidents) where police are quick to make arrests because they want to satisfy the pressure or maybe indicate to the public that indeed they are on the job, then eventually, it attracts a lot of civil claims,” Mofokeng concludes.