Durban – A Musgrave mother, whose daughter was allegedly killed by the police during a car chase in 2013, has decided to throw in the towel in her quest for justice.
Leonie Luckin said the three-and-a-half years she had waited for justice were too long for the authorities not to have prosecuted the killer of her daughter, Lee-Ann Douglas.
Luckin said the death of her only surviving relative had affected her health and had been a scary experience.
“She was the only family I had. Nothing has come out of this Ipid investigation. Six months ago I received a letter from Pretoria stating that an inquest into the matter had resulted in the case being sent back to KwaZulu-Natal,” she said.
“I’m upset about all this because it affects my health and it’s a waste of my money."
"I will never forgive these people,” Luckin said on Wednesday.
She said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) was “useless” and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“I’m getting older and years after my child was taken away from me, I’m yet to be told who killed her and why. I’m still in the dark."
“This is disturbing because a station commander had identified bullet holes which the police officers had not recorded in their report of the incident. This is not a good life for me because I’m left without a single family member. My daughter was all I had,” Luckin said.
The Daily News reported that Douglas, 45 at the time of her death, was driving from the South Coast towards Durban in 2013 when police allegedly chased her vehicle. It allegedly overturned, killing her at the scene.
However, Ipid said at the time that the eMkhomazi police station commander had uncovered an attempted cover-up by the police involved.
When the vehicle was towed away, the station commander noticed bullet holes on the vehicle and he questioned the officers.
They could not give a reasonable explanation for the shooting. The station commander informed Ipid as required by Section 29(1) of the Ipid Act.
An Ipid insider, who requested anonymity, said the slow rate of solving cases against officers was a concern caused by police non-compliance with the law.
“Police tampering with the crime scenes, making it difficult for investigators to conclude their work, is another challenge. We believe that there are many cases that are not reported to us for various reasons, including police sitting on the cases."
“According to the law the police are obliged to report cases of alleged brutality to us, but there is too much non-compliance."
“People must open dockets with the police and then report to us to avoid those dockets being manipulated or just stacked away without reaching our attention,” said the insider.
Moses Dlamini, Ipid national spokesperson, said he had no update on the Douglas matter.
“The original investigator was transferred to another province. I’m trying to trace who the new investigator is and get an update from him or her,” Dlamini said.
With regard to the statistics, Dlamini said Ipid would release its statistics when it tabled its half-year report on a date yet to be determined.
“The 2016 half-year report will be released soon and all the stats will be available."
“Police who withhold information from Ipid are defeating the ends of justice and we take this very seriously."
“The process in prosecuting involves the director of public prosecutions who should give direction on whether to prosecute,” he said.
Khomotso Phahlane, the acting national police commissioner, would not comment on the allegations, his spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said on Wednesday.
“We acknowledge that we have challenges like any other organisation. However, it must be noted that it is Ipid’s mandate to investigate and make recommendations to the relevant authority, and not run to the media. We are in the process of refining our strategy and at the beginning of this month we had a two-day strategic meeting where new strategies were formulated,” he said.
Mary de Haas, KZN violence monitor and research fellow at UKZN’s school of law, said the problems at Ipid were manifold, and included shoddy investigations when people were killed by the police.
She said that in Luckin’s case, Ipid had not even secured key evidence in the form of the car.
“Another problem is that some Ipid investigators were formerly police officers. Allegations about police interfering with crime scenes are probably true – they tend to cover for each other."
“The problem does not lie with lack of resources but with lack of capacity and bad management – which has become more of a problem because of the political interference we have seen taking place, like the suspension and recent reinstatement of Ipid head Robert McBride."
“Ipid should report to an independent body, headed by a judge or retired judge, as in the United Kingdom”.