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73% of cases struck off Western Cape court rolls were GBV matters

Cases were struck from the court roll either due to the dockets not being available or the investigation being incomplete. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Cases were struck from the court roll either due to the dockets not being available or the investigation being incomplete. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 5, 2021


An elderly man who sexually assaulted a 10-year-old gets off the hook because the court docket is missing. A woman who was stabbed lives in fear after her attacker walked free after multiple court postponements. Many more families who will never see justice for their murdered daughter and mothers.

These are some of the cases listed in a recent report that found that 71 of the 96 cases struck off the court rolls in the Western Cape were gender-based violence matters.

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The Court Watching Brief report for the fourth quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year (December 2020 to March 2021) disclosed that the majority of GBV cases that were removed from the province’s courts were cases of assault with grievous bodily harm (GBH), followed by rape cases, sexual assault, domestic violence, assault, kidnapping and murder.

The report was tabled at the Western Cape Legislature’s standing committee on community safety in September and showed that cases were struck off the court roll either due to missing dockets or incomplete investigations.

Cases were struck from the court roll either due to the dockets not being available or the investigation being incomplete. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Linda Jones, who is a court watch member and victim co-ordinator, said the system continued to fail victims of GBV.

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“We see many of these cases being thrown out of court because victims are threatened to withdraw their charges,” she said.

“My question is, why are they given the option? Investigations are not completed because we fail to get the core of things.

“We will continue to see the rapid rise (in case of GBV) because a victim of abuse often becomes an abuser, to protect themselves.”

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Among the 31 GBV cases struck off the court roll at Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court because the docket was missing involved a 66-year-old man who had allegedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl by touching her vagina. The accused made his first appearance on August 20 last year, but five months later the case was withdrawn.

At the Kuilsriver Magistrate’s Court a GBH assault case, where a woman was stabbed, had been on the roll since 2019 and was kicked out in November last year after nine postponements.

Chairperson of the standing committee on community safety, Reagen Allen, said these types of situations often led to secondary victimisation.

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“The findings in the latest quarterly report speaks to a lack of political will to change the state of the police service,” he said.

“The ignorance and lack of urgency by the national police minister can be addressed, it is a mere administrative competence being neglected. This could be addressed by decentralising policing powers to willing and competent provincial governments, like the Western Cape. It is beyond unacceptable that victims have to suffer due to the lack of political will and mismanagement.”

Delays in DNA results played a major role in many GBV court cases being postponed.

In September, the biology unit of the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory’s head office in Pretoria had a backlog of 137,849 DNA tests, while the figure for the Western Cape unit stood at 83,292.

The National Prosecuting Authority also said the backlog had a huge impact on court cases resulting in postponements and withdrawals.

Of the many cases that have been on the court roll for almost three years was that of Motseki Samuel Talasi.

Talasi was accused of murdering his step-daughter, Sandisiwe Mona, 17, in April 2019 in Plettenberg Bay. Four months after Mona’s disappearance, her decomposed remains were found in bushes near her home.

At the time, her family said that they had to hire a private pathologist to identify her remains after police told them it would take up to a year to get DNA results due to a backlog at a state laboratory.

Days after Mona’s funeral, Talasi was arrested and this week after a lengthy trial he was sentenced to life in prison for the teenager’s murder.

A Court Watching Brief report revealed that cases were also postponed due to a delay in DNA results. Picture : Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Allen said the lack of action in addressing DNA backlogs was concerning.

“It is quite distressing that the national police minister twice failed to use ring-fenced funds to help address the large DNA backlog that will greatly assist in bringing perpetrators to book,” he said.