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SAPS inefficiency leads to 64 GBV cases struck off court roll in Western Cape

Cape Town – The Western Cape Department of Community Safety said during its second quarter (July – September) report that its Court Watching Brief showed that 208 cases monitored during this period at 15 courts across the province were struck off the court roll due to police inefficiencies.

The Court Watching Brief (CWB) unit is a Department of Community Safety initiative to enhance the ability to perform oversight of the police as mandated by Section 2016(3) of the Constitution.

The courts monitored in this period are in Khayelitsha, Bishop Lavis, Mitchells Plain, Bellville, Wynberg, Athlone, Goodwood, Kuilsriver, Atlantis, Malmesbury, Vredenburg, Ceres, George, Mossel Bay and Knysna.

Of the 208 cases, 64 cases (30%) were gender-based violence (GBV) matters while 144 involved murder, aggravated robbery, possession and dealing in drugs and possession of firearms and ammunition.

Of the 144 cases, 74 (51%) were withdrawn because the investigations were incomplete, while 53 cases (36.8%) were withdrawn as the dockets were not in court.

In the GBV cases, 32 cases (50%) were withdrawn as the dockets were not in court, while 29 cases (45%) were withdrawn because of incomplete investigation.

The top five police stations that had cases withdrawn because the dockets were not in court were:

  • Atlantis
  • Khayelitsha
  • Delft
  • Elsies River
  • Lingelethu West

The top five police stations with the highest number of incomplete investigations were:

  • Atlantis
  • Kraaifontein
  • Ravensmead
  • Kuilsriver
  • Ocean View

Western Cape police oversight and community safety MEC for Reagan Allen said this damning indictment on the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Western Cape was a clear dereliction of duty.

“Part of the reason why we have these monitors is to ensure that SAPS is fulfilling their constitutional mandate and that justice can be served. The findings of this report are wholly unacceptable, as these could have been prevented through basic administrative work and management,” Allen said.

Police inefficiency has resulted in more than 200 cases being struck off court rolls in the Western Cape. Picture: WCG

This report has been shared with the SAPS and a formal response is expected by the end of January 2023.

“Yesterday, I engaged the SAPS provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile, and there is a commitment from him to study the report and revert in due course,” Allen said.

He said he felt deeply for the victims of these crimes as they were now experiencing secondary trauma due to justice being denied.

Police inefficiency has resulted in more than 200 cases being struck off court rolls in the Western Cape. Picture: WCG

“It takes such significant bravery for people who have experienced gender-based violence to come forward and for them to be let down by the system at such a basic level is incredibly distressing. With us commemorating 16 Days of Activism for No violence Against Women and Children, it angers me that all victims, but particularly those in GBV matters, have to endure this,” Allen said.

He said the way the SAPS handled the cases which were struck off the court rolls was part of the reason why communities were losing trust in the service.

“We have an appreciation for the tremendous strain our SAPS officers are under, given the lack of resources they have to contend with, and the large number of dockets investigators have to work through.

“We can, however, not have situations such as these where our law-abiding citizens are being failed in this manner.

“The case for the devolution of the SAPS to a capable provincial government such as ours, grows stronger every day, as we continue to show that through our data-led and localised approach, we will do our best to ensure that our people are not failed in this manner.

“I trust that SAPS will heed the recommendations made in the report, and ensure that these are actioned so that perpetrators can be convicted, and justice be served and be seen to be done,” Allen said.

robin.francke@inl.co.za

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