A colonel who was expelled from the SAPS for possessing rhino horn illegally has again been caught on the wrong side of the law for allegedly trying to rob a bank.
Former colonel Innocent Khumalo was arrested along with police reservist Lehlohonolo Leeba of Diepkloof, casting a spotlight on rogue elements within the police force. The two men, along with civilian Lloyd Sebokoana, allegedly shot and seriously injured a security guard who tried to apprehend them while trying to rob a Standard Bank branch in Roodepoort.
Gauteng police spokesperson Mavela Masondo said there were a few customers in the bank at the time of the robbery and that no one else had been injured. However, the men did not get away with any money and police quickly responded to a distress call from the bank, where they found the three and arrested them, Masondo said.
“All three were remanded at the Krugersdorp Correctional Facility for a formal bail application, which is to be heard tomorrow. Six people were involved in the bank robbery – three were arrested at the scene, while three other suspects fled. We are following some leads on the three suspects who fled.”
Masondo also confirmed that Khumalo’s criminal case on the rhino issue was still before the courts. While this raises questions regarding the SAPS harbouring criminals, Masondo maintained their recruitment and vetting processes were tight, saying the SAPS had an extensive recruitment process which “thoroughly scrutinises” prospective officers.
“The other thing which we do during the recruitment process is to consult with community leaders where prospective officers come to get the background of the person, over and above the criminal records we check.”
Head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, told The Star that it was “crucially important” for the police not to rely solely on their recruitment and vetting systems.
“Some people only become involved in crime or corruption long after they’ve joined the police. So they might join the police without having intentions of becoming involved in crime, but over time criminals approach them and they suddenly realise how much power they have.”
Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo admitted that there were police officers who “tarnish the good name of our many committed police officials”.