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The involvement of the South African Police Service in
serious and violent crime in South Africa

This is the second report of the Broken Blue Line project – the fi rst having been published by the IRR in 2011. As in 2011 this 2015 report examines the extent to which the police are involved in perpetrating criminal violence. There should be no need for such a report as the police should be our primary line of defence against criminal violence. However, as you will read, in too many cases that line of defence has broken down and the supposed defenders have become perpetrators. As long as the police service remains a home to violent criminals it is very unlikely that South Africa will experience a sustained and significant decline in serious and violent crime. It is essential therefore that pressure be brought to bear on political authorities to take police criminality seriously and deal with it effectively. Creating such pressure is also one of the most effective means by which South Africa can support the efforts of hard working and committed members of the police service.
Our thanks are extended to the civil rights organisation AfriForum which provided the funding for this report. Without their commitment and investment in the safety of South Africa’s people this report would not have been produced.

About the Broken Blue Line project

The Broken Blue Line is an advocacy project operated by the IRR to draw attention to criminality within the South African Police Service, study the extent of that criminality, and develop and promote policy solutions to stop it. It is important to be clear in what we mean by criminality. We are not concerned, for the purposes of this project, with allegations of corruption, petty harassment, or petty assaults by police officers. For example if a police officer solicited a bribe or roughed up a motorist such cases would fall outside of the scope of this project. The project is rather concerned with police involvement in serious and violent crime and seeks to track and record incidents where police offi- cers plan and execute crimes such as rapes, murders, and armed robberies. It seeks to track such incidents and bring them to public attention in order to help build support for policy solutions.


The methodology of the project is to scan media reports over a select period of time to identify incidents of (proven or alleged) police involvement in serious and/or violent crime. For any given period of time 100 such incidents will be identified as representative of police criminality over that period.

The project would then do an analysis of those 100 incidents looking for patterns of behaviour.
Out of those patterns the project would seek to come to some conclusions about the extent of police criminality, the nature of that criminality, and possible policy interventions to address such criminality.

The first Broken Blue Line report – February 2011

The first Broken Blue Line report was released by the IRR in February 2011. In the introduction to that report we wrote:
“South Africans are accustomed to media reports alleging the involvement of police offi- cers or ‘people dressed in police uniforms’ in serious crimes… To try and determine the scale of the problem the IRR assigned a researcher to source as much information as possible on the involvement of police offi- cers in committing crime.”

The results, we wrote, were ‘alarming’ and we were able to gather well over 100 case studies in less than a week – 75% of which took place over a period of just 14 months between January 2009 and April 2010. If we had continued our search we would doubtless have found several hundred, if (Continues on page 11)



Professor Walter Battiss se seun en sy kleindogter, Camilla Copley, van Nieu-Seeland het die Barttis Museum onlangs besoek. Hulle het die Battiss familiebybel en sy naamplaat wat by die Universiteit van die Witwatersrand op sy deur was aan die museum geskenk. Voor in die Bybel is die naam John Battiss, Somerset East, January 1st 1877 aangeteken. Dus kon dit aan Walter se oupagrootjie behoort het wat in 1840 hierheen getrek het of dit kon aan sy oupa, John Hartley Battiss, behoort het wat sedert sy geboorte in 1846 in Somerset-Oos gewoon het. Daar is ‘n sterk vermoede dat laasgenoemde wel die eienaar van die Bybel kon wees.
Die Bybel bevat baie handgeskrewe notas van familierekords asook stukkies papier waarop Professor Battiss aantekeninge gemaak het. Op die voorblad staan die volgende in potlood geskryf: “John had a blind brother ostrich famer at Kareebos, Somerset East.” Volgens Ros Turner van die Battiss Museum lyk dit of die aantekening in Professor Battiss se handskrif is.

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