DURBAN – A local police officer who was caught gambling at a casino while on duty – a dismissable offence – was allegedly only given a written warning.
The probe into police vehicle abuse has since been extended to all stations in the Chatsworth police cluster, which includes Brighton Beach, Bayview, Malvern, Bellair, Chatsworth and Montclair.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed an investigation had been ordered by acting provincial commissioner Major-General Bheki Langa.
This follows complaints that the personal use of police vehicles in the Chatsworth cluster has spiralled out of control.
According to a whistle-blower who asked to remain anonymous, a Chatsworth policeman, was caught red-handed by two senior officers and a colonel at Sibaya Casino while gambling during working hours.
“I saw him at the casino and on family outings where he was using a state vehicle,” said the whistleblower.
“He frequented Sibaya, Suncoast and Gold Rush casinos during working hours when he was supposed to be doing investigation duties.”
It is alleged that the officer’s gambling habits started last year.
After the whistle-blower lodged a complaint, an investigation was conducted.
During the investigation, the officer was allegedly caught on CCTV footage visiting Sibaya Casino on a day in February when he was supposed be on duty.
The report states that security officials at the casino checked footage in the presence of the investigator. They identified the officer driving into the casino grounds. He was later seen gambling there.
The whistle-blower said although the officer was found guilty of misconduct, he had been given a written warning, whereas another officer faced dismissal after being found guilty of using a police vehicle for personal use.
“Why this discrepancy?” asked the whistle-blower, who has also fingered a senior officer, who is in charge of detectives in the Chatsworth cluster, of using a state vehicle to go gambling at slot machines at the Savera Hotel in Chatsworth.
The officer declined to comment on the matter.
Zwane said the case was being reviewed as part of a broader probe into the abuse of police vehicles.
“The commissioner is reviewing the departmental investigation and has appointed a senior officer with a team to holistically investigate the abuse of the state vehicles in Chatsworth,” he said.
This comes after investigation by the DA deputy shadow minister of police Dianne Kohler Barnard, who had expressed concerns about the outcome of the officer’s case.
“He was supposed to be made to pay back all the hours he spent at the casino,” Kohler Barnard said.
“I am most perturbed that the matter was swept under the carpet to protect him by wiping away evidence. Police protect one another.
“We need to establish an independent team from another province to reopen the investigation on the officer.”
Kohler Barnard said she had been sent a flood of photographs of “cops misusing vehicles, fetching kids from schools and shopping at malls”.
In response to her queries in February, national police commissioner General Kehla Sitole wrote: “The allegations against personnel at the Chatsworth cluster are regarded as serious. In view of the nature of the alleged misconduct and the senior ranks occupied by the members who are allegedly involved, a departmental investigation has been instituted.
“The authority to drive state vehicles has, as an interim measure, been temporarily, suspended against the member mentioned.”
Kohler Barnard said the fact that the officer had been given a written warning spoke volumes about the police’s commitment to dealing with the problem.
The whistle-blower said the officer was still driving police vehicles.