Johannesburg - Three years after Taegrin Morris was dragged to his death in a hijacking, his killers are still free.
The four-year-old was left dangling outside his mother’s car after three armed men pushed her and his eight-year-old sister out of the vehicle and sped off from the boy's grandmother’s Reiger Park home.
In the moments before the hijackers drove off, Taegrin’s mother, Chantel, had tried desperately to unstrap him but the sea belt had jammed.
Sergeant Mashudu Phathela, the spokesperson for Reiger Park’s police station, said detectives were still pursuing leads and had appealed to the public to come forward with any information about the tragic incident.
The child’s case has joined the tens of thousands of other unclosed dockets across South Africa that have gone cold.
There are other high-profile cold cases. Just last week Police Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that detectives would be added to the team investigating the Senzo Meyiwa murder. They were there to offer a fresh eye, he said.
Soccer star Meyiwa was shot and killed in a robbery in 2014.
Now the SAPS plans to tackle those unsolved cases with the establishment of a Cold Case Strategy.
This strategy, says Police Department spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga, is part of the SAPS's Turn Around Vision 2018, introduced by National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole.
“We started to canvas it sometime last year. At the time it was linked to gender-based violence, but now we want to expand it to all cases,” Mhaga says.
He isn’t sure when the strategy will be launched.
“Basically, we want to have some team or unit that is dedicated to old cases so that people are able to find closure.
“So if you have a case that was opened and was never closed or you don’t know what happened to it, then bring it forward and let’s have a look. Let’s find out if we can’t get closure on that.”
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Gareth Newham, the head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies, believed it would be the first time that the SAPS had considered introducing such a strategy, although he pointed out that under the previous national commissioner there had been an emphasis on closing dockets.
There were a lot of cold cases in South Africa, he said. “The detection rate for murder in South Africa is just over 20%, which means that in one in every five cases detectives are able to solve a murder case.
“So, if you think about it, there are thousands and thousands of unsolved murder cases.
“Obviously a cold case unit can’t investigate all these cases. So you need to have some sort of criteria to investigate a particular case.”
This criteria, said Newham, could be new technology or simply someone coming forward with information. However, he felt that such an initiative could be good for crime-fighting.
“Anything that increases the chances of the police identifying and bringing criminals to court, regardless of how long ago the crime was committed, is a good initiative. It will certainly improve the public image of the police.”