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Cape Town - Western Cape
premier Helen Zille said her government was developing a database of provincial murder statistics by collating and comparing SAPS crime statistics with data received from mortuaries.
Zille, who was speaking during her State of the Province address, said this would allow the provincial government to work with “real-time” murder statistics rather than the “retrospective” annual crime statistics released by the police.
“Our database will also allow us to focus on crime rates in specific areas, which will enable us to be more responsive to local safety needs, and correlate the incidence of crime with other factors, such as the availability of alcohol,” Zille said.
The first “shadow” crime report was released last September, and the provincial government plans to release the report publicly every six months. Zille said the aim eventually was to release quarterly reports.
“We have also instituted ‘watching briefs’ at courts to identify systematic failures in the system (such as evidence gathering), with a particular focus on gang-related crimes,” she said.
“Watching briefs are undertaken either by trained legal experts in the department or university postgraduate law students.
“They attend court cases to observe and report on proceedings.”
Zille said this gave the provincial government a lot of meaningful information – such as the times a murder suspect walked free because the investigating officer failed to arrive in court three times in a row, or the occasions where a suspect and a witness were transported to court in the same vehicle, resulting in the alleged intimidation of a witness who then refused to testify.
“We report this to Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer, who otherwise would not know about them, so that he can call the police officers to account.”
All oversight interventions were aimed at supporting the SAPS to deliver more effective and efficient policing and increase the public’s trust and confidence in the criminal justice system, Zille said.
She said the Western Cape community safety standing committee had recently concluded public hearings on the Community Safety Bill and was currently considering the various submissions made.
About the O’Regan Commission of Inquiry, set up to investigate alleged police inefficiency and the breakdown in relations between the community and police in Khayelitsha, Zille said: “My decision to establish this authority was not taken lightly.
“From November 2011 to June 2012, my office corresponded with the provincial and national commissioners of police. For seven months we received no response except perfunctory acknowledgements of receipt.”
Commission secretary Amanda Dissel said the commission was continuing with its work and collecting statements and evidence from Khayelitsha residents.