Cape Town - Fifty court cases in the Western Cape related to gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) between October and December, were struck off the court roll or withdrawn due to policing inefficiencies.
This was revealed by Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz on Monday after he received the third quarterly report from the Court Watching Brief (CWB) Unit.
The report is for the period of October 1 – 31 December 31, 2020, and has provided insight on emerging trends related to the proliferation of GBVF in the province.
During the period under review, the CWB Unit monitored 139 cases that were struck off the court roll or withdrawn due to policing inefficiencies, of which 50 were GBVF related.
Of the 50 cases, the most recurring reasons for cases being struck off the court roll or withdrawn included:
- Docket not at court (30); and
- Investigation incomplete (20).
The CWB Unit aims to fulfil the SAPS oversight mandate within the Department of Community Safety, as prescribed by section 206 (3) of the Constitution, by visiting courts in the province and monitoring police conduct and the effectiveness.
The Unit reports on matters removed from the court roll due to police inefficiencies to ensure that they are returned to the court roll and to ensure that the necessary disciplinary action is taken.
Fritz said: “I wish to commend the CWB officials on their efforts to provide oversight over SAPS. During the period under review, it has been difficult for the Unit to access courts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and yet they continued to conduct their essential work, focusing on identified priority police stations, serious common crimes and GBVF.”
Courts covered by within the period under review, which include the 10 priority areas:
- Mitchells Plain
- Philippi East
- Bishop Lavis
Number of inefficiencies registered at SAPS stations in the 10 priority areas:
Fritz added: “It should be noted that GBV- related cases were brought to the attention of the CWB Unit outside of the ten priority areas and were monitored accordingly.
“Inefficiencies were additionally recorded SAPS precincts including: Parow, Samora Machel, Stellenbosch, Lingelethu West, Brackenfell, Ocean View, Riebeeck West, Klapmuts, Kleinvlei, among others. Inefficiencies were further found in cases related to contraventions of protection orders, statutory rape and sexual assault,” he said.
“It is most concerning that the majority of the inefficiencies related to rape cases were reported in Khayelitsha. Of those rape cases monitored, cases were struck off the court roll or withdrawn because of investigations being incomplete (1) or dockets was not at court (6).”
The MEC also broke down the trends that they noticed were emerging in relation to GBVF.
The CWB Unit recently conducted a smaller scale analysis of 53 dockets at 10 priority stations between 15/02/2021 and 19/02/2021.
Of the cases monitored in the priority areas, the CWB unit have identified the following trends in relation to GBVF:
- Out of the 53 case dockets perused, 15 victims were minors aged between 7 and 17 years old;
- In 23% of the 53 cases reported, the State issued Nolle Prosequi certificates on the dockets;
- In 17% of the cases reported, the complainant gave withdrawal statements to the investigating officer;
- In 8% of the cases reported, the matter is still under investigation;
- In 7% out of the cases reported, there was no reasonable prospect for a successful prosecution;
- In 4% of the cases reported, the docket was not at court; and
- In 4% of the cases reported, the investigation was incomplete.
“It is not enough for my department to perform oversight and highlight SAPS inefficiencies where they become apparent. We must flag these inefficiencies with the responsible parties and ensure that they are addressed,” Fritz said.
“As such, my department has written to the provincial Police Commissioner requesting comments on the cases which were removed from the court roll. The report was submitted, for comments from the Provincial Commissioner, to be provided, to the provincial standing committee on community safety by no later than 30 April 2021.
“I look forward to receiving the department’s next report at the beginning of April to further guide the Department in its oversight function.”
Fritz added that should people wish to liaise with the CWB unit, they can email the CWB Unit on [email protected]
The Department of Social Development in the Western Cape also recently released the total number of GBV cases that were referred to the province from the National GBV Command Call Centre over the festive season.
The Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) operates under the Department of Social Development. The Centre operates a National, 24hr/7days-a-week Call Centre facility. The facility employs social workers who are responsible for call-taking and call referrals.
The centre is able to refer calls directly to SAPS (10111) and field Social Workers who respond to victims of GBV.
The report which was documented for the period October 2020 – January 2021 provides a breakdown of the types of GBV cases.
The department said that the prevalence of under-reporting of abuse and violence continues to persist as many people who are subjected to GBV often do not seek support - mostly because they fear further violence and discrimination, or because they have no confidence in the justice system.
“In any instance where women and/or children are known to be victims of violence and abuse, we urge all members of the public to report these incidences via one of the many available reporting lines,” said Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez.
“Addressing GBV is an important, long-term societal challenge. In acknowledging the scale of the challenge, the Western Cape Government’s operational and analytical work has expanded considerably in recent years.
“We are in the process of finalising the Western Cape’s first-ever GBV transversal implementation plan, to help address the scourge of violence against women and children,” concluded Fernandez.
A more detailed breakdown of the above table can be found below: