Citizens can now rate police stations and safely report incidents of corruption and brutality with the launch of a new tool, Veza, by advocacy group, Corruption Watch.
Corruption Watch said it recently launched the open data tool in response to the many whistle-blower complaints it had received about police corruption. The online tool was also inspired by its engagements with communities regarding their experience with police violence and abuse.
Veza, a colloquial term for ‘reveal’ or ‘expose’ is the first tool of its kind in South Africa and is aimed at improving the transparency in policing in the country. The tool gives the public the power to hold the South African Police Service (SAPS) accountable.
Corruption Watch said the tool will equip a wide range of people, from researchers, journalists, activists and communities to the public at large, with the knowledge and insight to demand better and more accountable policing.
The Veza tool provides 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.
The online tool also enables users to rate and review police stations based on personal experiences, to compare resources of up to four stations, to commend honest and ethical police officers, and to report incidents of corruption and police misconduct that are immediately geo-located through the tool.
At the time of publication a total of 38 allegations of corruption had been posted on the tool, including 15 incidents of bribery, 9 incidents of abuse of power and 14 incidents of dereliction of duty. Police stations in Johannesburg attracted the most complaints with 23 cases, followed by Cape Town which had seven reports and Durban which had three cases reported.
“Since Corruption Watch’s inception in 2012, innovation has always been central to our approach in addressing systemic and pervasive corruption in South Africa,” Kavisha Pillay, head of stakeholder relations and campaigns at Corruption Watch said.
“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,” she said.
The data used to populate 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.