A damning report on the detective services, compiled by the department of community safety, found a lack of training, under-resourcing of detectives, and poor crime intelligence resulted in dockets not arriving at court, incomplete investigations and forensic reports not being available.
A total of 150 police stations in the province were assessed between July 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.
It shows that in the 875 cases monitored during the assessment, 380 dockets did not arrive in court, 417 investigations were not completed, 37 witnesses were not present in court, 41 forensic reports were not available, and 71% of detectives had no informers.
Other findings are that of the 2785 detectives in the Western Cape, at least 91.7% have not received specialised training, 88.2% have not been trained to investigate fraud, and 45.8% did not complete the basic detective learning programme.
It found 57% of detective commanders to have not completed the requisite training.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said: “The quality of their (detectives’) work determines whether a case is solved or dropped.
“Unfortunately, not only are there resource shortages and a lack of training among our detectives, but our detectives are also completely over-burdened.
“At present the Western Cape does not have enough detectives to investigate the spate of criminality and gangsterism in the province.
“There is a shortage of 548 detectives in the province, and 142 posts currently remain vacant.”
Head of detectives in the Western Cape, Major-General Jeremy Vearey, who is on leave, said he was shocked at the findings, and said he was not consulted for any input.
ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said: “The release (of the report) is no coincidence.
“It is timed as national Police Minister Bheki Cele is about to name the new provincial police commissioner.
“As such, it is meant to influence that process and secure a ‘DA-friendly person’,” he said.
Community activist Colin Arendse expressed doubt about Fritz’s view of staff shortages, and questioned why he did not reveal them before it was announced that provincial police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula would leave the province.
Arendse questioned why Fritz did not hold Jula to account on the matter in terms of his oversight mandate.
“If the police are so dysfunctional as Fritz alleged, then why is the entire Atlantis Fancy Boys gang serving time behind bars?” he said.
“Seasoned gangsters like the late Colin Stanfield, and Rashied Staggie and George ‘Geweld’ Thomas have all been locked up, thanks to brilliant detective work by our police services.”
Johan Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, said: “Criminals will go about committing crimes because they know that detectives won’t be able to arrest them or (help to) successfully prosecute them.
“The lack of intelligence is of grave concern because intelligence goes hand in hand with investigations.”