Against a background of arrests of some police officers and civil servants on allegations of corruption and contravening the State of Disaster regulations during the Covid-19 lockdown, Corruption Watch director David Lewis yesterday called on government to declare acts of those found guilty of graft during the crisis “treason”.
Lewis was commenting on growing arrests of police officers found to be in cahoots with underworld liquor traders by selling or distributing alcohol; and civil servants who used emergency procurement to fleece the state of taxpayers’ money, with some said to be diverting food parcels to cronies.
According to national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, last week saw the arrest of several cops.
– Eleven police officers were arrested in connection with alcohol-related crimes in a joint operation between police from Montagu, Bonnievale and Worcester in the Western Cape.
The officers were detained at the Montagu police station and are due to appear in the Swellendam Magistrate’s Court.
– Two traffic officers working for the JB Marks Local Municipality who allegedly received liquor from the owner of a bottle store in Potchefstroom.
“Abuse of power by police and some civil servants during this time should be treated as treason,” Lewis said.
“There may be good reasons for the liquor ban, but from the US experience in the 1920s, once you ban a sought-after commodity, those who want to make a quick buck will take advantage of the situation by finding a way around the prohibition.”
Police Minister Bheki Cele over the weekend condemned “acts of criminality by this small percentage of our members”.