Crime scene management poor: expert

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IOL  ct Khayelitsha Killing Field 6466 done Independent Newspapers Boys enjoy a game of soccer on a field known by Khayelitsha residents as the "field of death". Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town - Even when conditions are favourable, the management of crime scenes in Khayelitsha is lacklustre, an independent forensic scientist said in Cape Town on Tuesday.

“My heart goes out to a certain extent to police in trying to manage a crime scene... when there's not adequate lighting or adequate crowd control,” David Klatzow told the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.

“All of that leads to a situation which would contaminate the evidence.”

Klatzow was asked to examine the evidence of some witnesses who testified on crime scene management by the police in the area. It would not cost millions to equip officers with the tools to secure a crime scene.

Equipment such as halogen lights and small generators could cost under R5 000, Klatzow said, insisting that these provisions should not just be made in certain cases.

“It's a tragedy that one life in this country is worth more than another life... that one life is not worth a generator,” Klatzow testified.

He said police response vehicles should come with a special pack containing simple tools such as barrier tape and gloves.

“I don't understand the lack of will to protect the scene of a crime... it should be in every police vehicle.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the commission heard weak crime intelligence in Khayelitsha led to policing happening by chance.

“The consequences are not intelligence-driven policing, but policing by chance,” retired police crime intelligence analyst Chris de Kock said.

“You police the area and there by chance you arrest somebody because there's no focus on specific threats.”

De Kock examined crime statistics from the area for the past few years and concluded that crime had regressed significantly since the 2010 World Cup.

This was when crime intelligence systems were implemented successfully.

“In those stations where proper analysis was done crimes decreased by between 40 and 50 percent,” he said.

“If you look at the two years since then, we are actually going backwards.”

During the 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years, “policeable crimes” such as common and aggravated robberies, increased by 50

percent in the greater Khayelitsha area.

Attempted murder increased by close to 30 percent in 2012/13.

“That is exceptionally high,” he said.

De Kock and Klatzow are two of several expert witnesses who will testify this week.

The commission, chaired by judge Kate O'Regan, started sitting in January. It was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after NGO the Social Justice Coalition complained that police inefficiency was the reason for mob killings becoming more prevalent in the area.

Sapa



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