South Africa News

89 GBV cases struck off the court roll due to police inefficiencies in the Western Cape

The Western Cape Police Oversight and Community Safety member of the executive committee (MEC), Reagan Allen, expressed his distaste after the first and second quarter Court Watching Briefs (CWB) Unit reports were revealed.

The reports took cases from April 2023 to September 2023, and showed that 243 cases were monitored during this period at 25 different courts, linked to 58 police stations across the province, were struck off the court roll due to the inefficiencies of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

It said that this consisted of 63 cases monitored during quarter one at eight courts covering 21 SAPS stations, and 180 during quarter two at 17 courts, covering 37 SAPS stations.

Of the 63 cases monitored during quarter one, 26 (41.3%) were related to gender-based violence (GBV). While in quarter two, 63 (35%) of the 180 cases accounted for GBV. In total, of the 243 cases, 89 are GBV-related.

The CWB Unit is an initiative of the department to enhance its ability to perform oversight of the SAPS as mandated by Section 206(3) of the Constitution. Both reports have been shared with the SAPS.

The monitored courts are located in Khayelitsha, Athlone, Wynberg, Mitchells Plain, Bellville, Blue Downs, Philippi, Kuilsriver, Atlantis, Paarl, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn, Thembalethu (George), Laingsburg, George, Knysna, and Beaufort West.

The SAPS stations attached to these cases are: Kuilsriver, Manenberg, Athlone, Philippi, Khayelitsha, Harare, Gugulethu, Durbanville, Delft, Lingelethu West, Kraaifontein, Nyanga, Manenberg, Steenberg, Kirstenhof, Ravensmead, Lansdowne, Grassy Park, Philippi East, Mitchells Plain, Kleinvlei, Samora Machel, Mfuleni, Parow, Atlantis, Mbekweni, Paarl East, Groot Brakrivier, KwaNonqaba, Oudtshoorn, De Rust, Conville (George), Laingsburg, Pacaltsdorp (George), Knysna, and Beaufort West.

“These grim statistics leave a bitter taste in my mouth. The continued GBV plaguing our society must come to an immediate end. The way SAPS, and by extension the entire criminal justice system, is failing these individuals, often amongst the most vulnerable in our communities, will never be acceptable,” Allen said.

“It is further concerning that these are just the cases we monitored and might not paint a full picture of the reality. The criminal justice system has to do better.”

He said the CBW Unit was initiated in 2013 and has since been adopted by all provinces across the country.

“Many SAPS officers have excessive workloads, having more than 200 dockets to investigate, which does not help them as investigators, nor the persons who have been violated. This failure does, however, not justify their inability to comply with their oath and fulfill their constitutional mandate. I note that in certain instances, disciplinary action has been taken against some SAPS members,” Allen said.

He said he will be engaging the Western Cape Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile along with the Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Nicolette Bell to gain insight into what must be done to improve and ensure these results are not repeated.

“The pain, suffering, and injustice that the victims have to endure has to be addressed and there should be recourse for the victims. We have made several recommendations based on these findings, including that SAPS should develop an improvement plan to minimize the number of cases that are struck off the roll due to their inefficiencies,” Allen said.

“We are not merely conducting tick boxing exercise. We want our oversight to lead to better service delivery. It is critical that the SAPS is credible and trustworthy while delivering a service that is professional and of the highest standard, which ultimately protects and serves individuals often deeply affected by crime. This is just another stark reminder why SAPS has to be devolved to a capable provincial government such as ours.”

-IOL

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