Corruption Watch (CW), in response to the many whistle-blower complaints, has launched an online tool to report police corruption and misconduct.
Veza, which means reveal, will allow whistle-blowers to report corruption within the police by sharing information anonymously on the website. At the same time it can also be used to nominate honest and ethical police officers.
This online tool provides police information at national, provincial and district level. It features interactive maps of police corruption trends and hotspots, information relating to the public’s rights when encountering the police in various situations, and data on all 1 150 police stations across the country, such as locations, resources, budget and personnel. It also enables users to rate and review police stations based on personal experiences.
“Since Corruption Watch’s inception in 2012, innovation has always been central to our approach in addressing systemic and pervasive corruption in South Africa,” says Kavisha Pillay, head of stakeholder relations and campaigns at Corruption Watch. “The launch of the Veza tool signifies a new era for Corruption Watch as we explore how transparency, big data and accessible technology can be used to combat corruption and advance broader social justice issues.”
Veza is designed to encourage public participation in the matter of transparency in policing, while also providing access to key information about police operations. Its use will help to strengthen the role of the public and civil society in calling for change in the SAPS, and in reducing the power imbalance that exists between the SAPS and members of the public.
It also provides an opportunity for the police and other government structures to support public access to information. “This will go a long way to restoring public confidence in the vital role that they play in the country. Members of the police service can themselves benefit from the use of the geo-location feature that highlights hotspots of corruption, and gain valuable insight into the allocation and use of resources of their own police stations,” Pillay said.
Police stations can be rated according to four criteria – assistance, response time, communication, and professionalism – and users have the option of leaving a comment.
Veza also contains a “Know Your Rights” section which offers practical information, developed in consultation with legal experts, about your rights when you are arrested, stopped at a roadblock, confronted with bribery or involved in a protest. It offers information on domestic violence, sexual abuse, and gender-based violence. Foreign nationals and street vendors
Users can also use this platform to gicve recognition to the police. “Despite corruption and misconduct being widespread in our police service, there are many honest and ethical police officials who are dedicated to making our communities safer.” South Africans can nominate honest and ethical police officers.
The data used for the Veza tool was obtained directly from the SAPS through the submission of a number of applications under the Promotion of Access to Information Act. The collection and verification of data is an ongoing process, and the team is continually working to address the current gaps in information from specific provinces, districts and individual police stations by applying pressure to the necessary bodies to disclose the relevant information, which is in the public interest.