Praise for Khayelitsha detectives

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IOL  Khayelitsha SAPS charge office Independent Newspapers Inside the Khayelitsha SAPS charge office. File picture: Obed Zilwa

Cape Town - Detective work in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, is going well given the resources at hand, the station's detective unit head said on Wednesday.

“I think we're doing very well. I think if everybody puts in what he can put in, to his full potential, no one can fault you on that,” Site B Khayelitsha's head of detectives Colonel Johan Marais told the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into alleged police inefficiency in the area.

“Yes, we do make mistakes. You can only do so much with what you have.”

The station had a wish list for more vehicles, personnel and experts.

Marais said he was not a politician but wanted to draw a vision of policing from the newspapers.

He compared the tripartite alliance of the African National Congress, the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the SA Communist Party, with the SA Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and the correctional services department.

“If we could work like that, without the split that is there now, we would have a much better criminal justice system and maybe the public would understand us better, and get more joy out of it 1/8the system 3/8.”

Marais was asked what he thought of the performance charts within stations, which tracked a detective's cases at court, conviction rate, detection rate, court-ready cases, case number integrity and absenteeism.

“Personally, I think nothing of the performance chart because it only measures about 10 percent of what the person does in a day,” he said.

Marais said the chart did not measure the amount of time detectives spent in the high court, the number of identification parades held and attended, the number of times witnesses had been fetched and the time spent at imbizos and meetings after hours.

“Is there any recognition in the performance chart of the burden you're carrying?” asked retired Constitutional Court judge Kate O'Regan.

Marais said there was not.

The inquiry heard that two detectives on standby duty, from a Thursday to a Sunday, often had to attend, secure and process an average of seven murder scenes.

He gave an example of a certain weekend where the detectives had to rush from a scene to two other scenes after hearing gunshots, all in the space of five blocks that were inaccessible by car.

Each scene took an average of three to four hours to process.

“I know what was put into those crime scenes,” Marais said.

The inquiry - headed by O'Regan, and advocate Vusi Pikoli - was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after residents lodged complaints about police inefficiency, which was the apparent cause of a spate of mob justice killings in the area.

Sapa



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