Western Cape government concerned over court watching brief stats

Premier Alan Winde and Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen presented and unpacked the statistics of the court watching brief. Picture: Supplied

Premier Alan Winde and Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen presented and unpacked the statistics of the court watching brief. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 11, 2023


Cape Town - The provincial government expressed grave concern over the Court watching Brief Statistics.

The numbers covered the first quarter of the 2023/24 financial year, from April to June.

On Tuesday, Premier Alan Winde and MEC for Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, provided a breakdown of the latest available statistics from the Court Watching Brief Unit (CWB).

“The CWB is an initiative of the Western Cape Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety in terms of section 206 (3), which strengthens the department’s oversight role and assists it in identifying inefficiencies in the judicial system. Among the primary focus areas are cases that have been struck from the roll.

“Eight courts were monitored by the unit over the period under review, covering 21 police stations. The courts were Khayelitsha, Blue Downs, Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Wynberg, Kuils River, Bellville and Athlone.

“They were selected based on the police stations they serve, which are categorised as priority stations due to the seriousness and prevalence of the criminal offences that occur and are recorded in those districts.”

Allen said that the findings for the first quarter show that Kraaifontein police station had the highest number of cases struck from the roll, at eight.

“These included gender-based violence (GBV) matters. The primary reasons for the cases being struck from rolls are: failure of the investigating officer to finalise the investigation within a reasonable time frame; failure to have the police docket at court; and accused not brought to court.”

Winde said, “While it is very concerning that cases stemming from serious offences such as GBV are not being dealt with properly in some courts, I am also aware of the immense strain our police officers are under.

“It is clear there are simply not enough police officers deployed to the Western Cape to make a meaningful enough impact on crime levels. Our approach to fighting crime must be data and evidence-driven. However, we are also addressing the root causes of crime, namely unemployment.”

Allen said it is important that there is a police service that consistently delivers professional work.

“All persons should experience the same quality of service from SAPS, regardless of who they are or where they come from. This report once again points out why SAPS should be devolved to a capable government such as ours.

“The national government will continue to fail these dedicated men and women in blue, particularly at station and detective level. We are already demonstrating through Leap how we are strengthening SAPS’s hand, and once SAPS is under our management, we will ensure that our stations and detective services are capacitated, so that these types of matters are effectively dealt with.”

Allen stated during the media briefing that he sent the report to provincial commissioner Thembisile Patekile but has not received a response.

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said: “The SAPS management prefers discussing issues pertaining to the court watching brief at length with the Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety where context, individual cases and oversight methods are properly ventilated with a view to sustained performance that results in enhanced service delivery. Deliberations between all parties on the matter are expected to commence in due course.”

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Cape Argus