Ten facts about SA’s watch-dog – Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).


  1. The IPID Act was signed into law on 12 May 2011. IPID is an independent organisation that reports to the Minister of Police and functions independently of the SA Police Service (SAPS)
  2. The Act empowers IPID to investigate serious criminal offences by SAPS and Municipal Police Service (MPS) members – including all deaths in police custody or as a result of police action, criminal offences and acts of serious misconduct allegedly committed by SAPS and MPS members.
  3. The Directorate is obliged to investigate matters such as complaints relating to the discharge of an official firearm by a police officer; rape by a police officer, whether the police officer is on or off duty; rape of any person in police custody and any complaint of torture or assault against a police officer in the execution of his, or her, duties. It is also mandated to investigate police–related corruption.
  4. IPID was established on 1 April 2012, in terms of Section 206(6) of the Constitution of the Republic of SA which provided for the establishment of an independent police complaints body. IPID replaced the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) and is empowered to focus on serious criminal investigations as opposed to mostly service –related matters investigated by its predecessor.
  5. IPID’s mission is to be “an effective independent and impartial investigating and over-sight body that is committed to justice and acting in the public interest while meeting the highest standards of integrity and excellence.”
  6. For the entire 2013/2014 reporting period, the IPID had no permanent head and nine provincial head posts were vacant. As a result, there were inconsistencies in performance, with some provinces meeting their performance target and others failing to do so.
  7. IPID received 5 745 complaints during the 2013/2014 reporting period. Of these, 3 916 were assault cases, 429 were complaints relating to the discharge of official firearms, 390 were incidents of deaths resulting from  police action, 374 related to other criminal matters and 234 were incidents of deaths in police custody.
  8. SAPS adopted an anti-torture policy in 2009 and in 2011 IPID was given an express mandate to investigate all allegations of torture by the police, according to the Association for the Prevention of Torture.

Most brutal police stations

9. The Prevention and Combating of Torture Bill was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma in July 2013.According to IPID 2013/2014 annual report, to date no police officer has been prosecuted for torture by the National Prosecuting Authority.

10. More than 17 000 cases of deaths, rapes, assaults and torture were reported to IPID between 2004 and 2014 countrywide – an average of 1 770 a year, or close to five incidents a day. According to City Press’ Athandiwe Saba (Brutality… just another day on the job) records dating back to 2004 were incomplete and case numbers, incident dates, names of police stations and complainants’ details often unrecorded.

Death in custody

Want to learn more about police brutality and misconduct?

The full IPID 2012/2013 report can be read here

The full IPID 2013/2014 report can be read here

An insightful piece on unlawful arrests and police misconduct, written by WJP senior journalist, Ruth Hopkins, can be read here

Also read South African police accused of routinely torturing crime suspects by WJP senior journalist, Carolyn Raphaely.

Listen to Wits Justice Show radio podcasts on Police Brutality and What can the police do to you during an arrest?




About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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