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Three Upington cops arrested for corruption, robbery

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Three Northern Cape police officers and a Congolese national are facing charges of robbery, corruption and theft.

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THREE Upington police officers and a Congolese national are expected to reappear in the Upington Magistrate’s Court on January 24 on charges of corruption, robbery and theft.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) national spokesperson Grace Langa said the alleged incident took place on November 24 last year.

Langa said the three police officers and the Congolese national went to the complainant’s home in Upington in search of drugs and dagga.

She said that two of the police officers were on duty while the third was off duty.

“They found no illegal items at the house. Instead, they discovered money belonging to the owner of the house – R40,000 that was hidden inside a pillow and another R5,000 that was kept in a different location inside the house.”

Langa added that they allegedly demanded R10,000 from the complainant and threatened to kill him or take him to the Lindela Repatriation Centre if he failed to hand over the money.

“It is alleged that the police officers loaded him into a marked police van and drove around with him, threatening to kill him. The complainant explained to the suspect police officers that he was a security guard and that his contract had ended. He did not have a bank account and kept the money with him because he was a foreigner.

“The police demanded R10,000 from him and the complainant promised to give them R1,500. They refused and instead demanded R4,000. The complainant was dropped off at his house and was warned not to tell anyone about the incident.”

Langa stated that the matter was reported to the Paballelo police station, where it was referred to the Upington police station.

“The two officers who were on duty were confronted about the matter. They both denied the allegations. Later, the police admitted that indeed it happened and that they had fetched the officer who was off-duty to collect the money.

“They said that they returned the R4,000 that they had taken from the complainant and promised to give back the cellphone which they had also taken from the complainant.”

Langa added that IPID investigated the matter and handed the docket to the senior public prosecutor.

“The three police officers were charged and a warrant of arrest was issued against them. IPID requested assistance from the SAPS Upington Public Order Police to effect the arrest.”

She stated that Constable Johannes Thapelo Semamai, 27, attached to the Upington Visible Policing (Vispol) unit, resisted arrest and assaulted some of the police officers who were assisting IPID with the arrests.

“Sergeant PK, 36, who is attached to the Upington Vispol unit and was off-duty at the time of the offence, and Sergeant Philip Kagisho Gaekwathi, 33, were arrested.”

She explained that Gaekwathi could not be arrested at the same time that the first arrests were executed on December 17 as he had tested positive for Covid-19 and had to be placed in isolation.

“Semamai and Sergeant PK appeared in court on December 20. Sergeant PK was granted R1,000 bail while Semamai was denied bail as he had a previous conviction for drinking and driving, along with another pending corruption case, which is still on the court roll and is under investigation by the Hawks in Upington. He was apparently fired from the SAPS on December 19. Gaekwathi was arrested on January 9.”

She said that the accused would appear in court again on January 24.

“The fourth suspect, a Congolese national, is expected to be charged in the Upington Magistrate’s Court on January 11, after he appeared in court for another case. He has outstanding cases that he has to attend, including an offence that was committed in Cape Town and another robbery in Upington.”

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