Two police officers have been arrested in Westbury, Gauteng, for allegedly concealing crucial evidence relating to a murder case.
They are facing a charge of murder and defeating the ends of justice.
City Press reported last weekend about two officers, who were allegedly removed from Sophiatown police station amid a violent protest by the predominantly coloured community.
Read: Westbury’s next task: Break up the drug lords and the cops
The community alleged at the time that the officers were colluding with druglords.
Warrant Officer Wynand Steyn (45) and Sergeant Tom Keet (42), whose names were known to the newspaper at the time but could not be published, were confirmed this morning by a statement released by the office of national police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole.
They were arrested last night and are among seven suspects arrested on Friday in connection with the murder of 21-year-old Bradley Sauls, who was gunned down while walking in Westbury on July 24 this year.
Other suspects, who appeared in court on Monday are Taiton Palmer (73), Dennis Oliphant (25), Desmond Oliphant (37) and Keenan Ebrahim (34).
They have been remanded in custody until October 18.
The fifth suspect, who was later arrested with the two officers, had not been named by authorities.
General Khehla Sitole. Picture: Deaan Vivier
They are due to appear in court on Wednesday on charges of murder and defeating the ends of justice.
According to Sitole’s office, Steyn and Keet are alleged to have “concealed crucial evidence after having arrived first on the scene” and that the state will oppose any efforts by the accused to apply for bail.
“There is also a departmental investigation running concurrently against the two policemen,” Sitole’s office said.
Their arrest follow a multi-disciplinary task team that was deployed in Westbury as part of an intervention to stabilise the community.
Read: Cele deploys tactical response team to manage crime in Westbury
Police Minister Bheki Cele and Sitole visited the community following complaints of drug dealing, corruption and crime in the past few weeks.
Following their visit to the area, Westbury has since been saturated with police officers comprising of crime intelligence, directorate for priority crime investigation (Hawks) teams, tactical response teams, public order police, visible policing and an investigative task team, all part of a stabilisation intervention.
Sauls case was among those investigated by the task team.
The team identified a group of suspects through intensive investigations, Sitole’s office said.
A myriad of complaints and information was provided by community members to the police.
These included allegations of gross corruption against Steyn and Keet.
The team found prima facie evidence which enabled their arrests, Sitole’s office said, and added that police would continue to combat fraudulent and corrupt activities within its ranks.
His office vowed that those who participate in such activities will be decisively dealt with and removed from the service.
“The full might of the law must be felt and will be applied at all times, regardless of rank, position or affiliation,” Sitole’s office said.
Cele welcomes the arrests
“The SA Police Services is a leading role player in the criminal justice system. We can neither afford nor tolerate any unethical behaviour or corrupt members within our ranks.
"Corruption undermines the rule of law and severely undermines the dignity and safety of our people.
"Police officers who engage in corruption are even worse than criminals on the streets, because they betray the very people who have entrusted them with the power to deal with criminals and erode the hope and trust that our people have in government,” Cele said.
He thanked the community of Westbury for standing up against drug and gang related violence.
“We further call on all communities to report acts of crime whenever such manifest. We can only promise the community that no information provided to us will be ignored.
"It is time that we partnered in the declaration of war not only against rogue street criminals, but also against corrupt officials who aid in the proliferation of crime,” he said.
Sitole also welcomed the arrests made and urged the community to remain calm and allow for the investigation to take its course.
“I am confident that this team will continue to work around the clock to bring to book all those responsible for crime in the area of Westbury.
"The arrest of the two policemen is a clear indication that nobody is above the law and that corruption will not be tolerated,” said Sitole.