Cape Town – The Western Cape MEC of community safety and police oversight, Reagan Allen has spent his first 100 days in office and has raised concerns.
The department, which established the Court Watching Brief team has released its quarterly report.
The statistics revealed that between April 1 and June 30, 198 cases serving before the court were withdrawn as a result of police inefficiencies by the South African Police Service (SAPS).
“That is 198 cases that will never be tested by law, 198 alleged crimes where the perpetrators will simply walk free, and a raft of victims who will never see justice served. This, in itself, is criminal.
“These statistics are drawn from the quarterly report of the Department of Community Safety’s Court Watching Brief team, a unit we established to bolster police oversight, as mandated by section 206(3) of the Constitution,” Allen said.
He said it is egregious that the SAPS has failed in such simple ways.
“Instead of helping victims of crime to achieve justice, they’ve dealt them a further blow, and as a society, we must stand up and say that we cannot allow this to continue,” Allen said.
Of the cases, 85 (45%) cases were withdrawn due to dockets not being at court.
A total of 80 (40%) cases were withdrawn due to incomplete investigation.
A total of 21 of cases were withdrawn due to the accused not being brought to court.
Eight (4%) of cases were withdrawn due to witnesses not being subpoenaed.
A total of four cases (2%) of cases were withdrawn due to outstanding forensic reports.
“I am outright angered by these statistics, as these are not just mere court cases, but actual human beings who were affected by crime.
“My heart is bleeding for the very individuals whom we request to put their trust in SAPS and the justice system so that whoever violated them will be held accountable and receive the necessary sentence.
“The only manner in which overall faith and trust can be restored is if our SAPS officers and detectives are empowered with the relevant resources and tools, necessary skills, and the right attitude to see their cases through.
“This is another reason why SAPS should be devolved. The current system and management will continue to fail the committed officers on the ground, which means that our residents will continue to bear the brunt of these inefficiencies,” Allen said.
The top five police stations that accounted for 41 (48.2%) of the 85 cases withdrawn for dockets not being at court are Beaufort West (16), Oudtshoorn (10), Lingelethu West (8), Kuilsriver (4), and Knysna (3).
The top five police stations that accounted for 42 (52.5%) of 80 cases that were withdrawn due to incomplete investigations are Oudtshoorn (13), Laingsburg (12), Citrusdal (7), Beaufort West (6), and Manenberg (4).
“I am going to visit these stations and stand by them until police management helps them sort their issues out. The residents of these precincts, and all residents, in fact, deserve a police service that will ensure that crime is diminished, and that justice is served when it takes place.
“I am also outraged that right in Women’s Month I receive a report which states that gender-based violence cases (GBV) accounted for 18.2% (36) of the overall 198 cases monitored.
“This is a dismal failure on the part of SAPS to turn around one of the biggest issues plaguing our society today. It is no wonder that women don’t want to report crimes of this nature – their cases are dead in the water in SAPS’ hands,” Allen said.
All 36 GBV cases struck off the court roll were due to systemic failures.
Of the 36 GBV cases, 25 cases were withdrawn because the dockets were not brought to court and eight were withdrawn because the investigation was incomplete.
“As much as there are issues with resources and particularly a dire lack of detectives, it cannot be acceptable that our people are being failed in this manner – SAPS management must address this with urgency.
“We have to do better, and I want SAPS at station level and in the Western Cape to know that we will continue to fight for them, however, they should not stop fighting for the protection of our residents,” Allen said.
He said SAPS management is fully aware of this report and he will be forwarding the report directly to National Police Minister, Bheki Cele as well.
“In it, we’ve recommended that the investigators should put shoulders to the wheel in an effort in to ensure that all relevant and required dockets are brought to court in time and on the specified date, while also doing everything in their power to complete the docket before it is sent to the court.
“Once we are able to achieve this, we will start seeing fewer cases being thrown out of court,” Allen said.