At South Africa’s police watchdog, criminal cases against police officers are often “completed” in big pushes at the end of calendar months and reporting years, a data analysis by Media Hack (on behalf of Viewfinder) has shown.
This pattern adds weight to 2014 whistle-blower reports, from the Northern Cape provincial office of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), that case completion was driven by the pressure to generate performance statistics, and not by the natural progressions and outcomes of individual investigations.
“There is pressure to ‘shortcut’ investigations in order to make targets for monthly reporting to National Office,” Northern Cape investigators were cited as saying in a site visit report of 2014. “Investigators reported that in the haste to make targets, all work stops at the end of the month and the objective is to ‘complete cases’.”
IPID’s performance is partly measured by the number of cases it “completes” in a year. Technically, “completion” means a quality investigation was done. But, other whistle-blower reports described in Viewfinder’s launch article allege that many such cases – including allegations of rape, torture and killings by police officers – were not properly investigated, and pushed to “completed” status to generate performance statistics.
IPID’s Strategic Plan requires that it generates monthly, quarterly and yearly statistical reports on how many cases it completes. The deadlines for completion statistics to be included in these reports are the last days of the month, quarter and reporting year respectively. These statistics are finally compiled into the IPID annual report. Annual reports are then presented to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Policing around October each year, where IPID’s overall “performance” for the year is assessed.