NATIONAL NEWS - On Friday, 14 May 2021, both the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the provincial Department of Community Safety (DoCS) briefed the Standing Committee on Community Safety regarding the Court Watching Brief (CWB) Unit’s 3rd quarterly report.
The unit is a DoCS initiative that monitors the inefficiencies of SAPS in processing criminal cases. It does so by visiting courts and monitoring the reasons why cases are removed from the court-roll.
It seeks to further justice by supporting cases to return to the roll and that appropriate action is taken where inefficiencies have been identified.
A reply to a parliamentary question recently revealed that the work of the CWB unit led to disciplinary actions of 80 SAPS members thus far, in addition to the efforts to return cases to the court-roll.
MPP Reagen Allen comments: “The 3rd quarterly report indicated that 139 cases were monitored, of which 117 cases have received attention. As a result, 12 disciplinary actions were taken against SAPS members for failures detected by the unit. As with the previous quarterly report, most cases struck off the court-roll and assessed by the Court Watching Brief Unit relate to Domestic Violence, Gender Based Violence and Femicide.
Rape featured amongst the top three offences in which inefficacies have been detected.
SAPS themselves attributed this to the backlog in processing DNA samples, which still stands at over 200 000 samples on a national level. This failure of SAPS leadership to manage contracts and processes presents major obstacles for the criminal justice system to run its course.
We call on Minister Bheki who has now been thoroughly informed on the extent of this matter to act urgently. The failure to correct the errors in the SAPS supply chain management comes at an increasing cost of justice to a growing number of victims.
In the interest of cooperative governance and to continuously help address the inefficiencies identified at SAPS, the Community Safety standing committee resolved to request that DoCS conduct Post Charge Sheet enquires, over and above the CWB’s existing effort. This request seeks to improve details within quarterly reports on SAPS inefficacies.
The CWB unit is an example of how the provincial government goes beyond its mandate towards crime intervention through oversight. It must be noted that crime is not taken into account in the division of revenue to provinces. The current R2.1 million set aside for this programme is thus solely to support victims of crime.”
The Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape will continue practices oversight over the matters that prevent justice to the many victims of crime, particularly where practical interventions are proven possible in the neglect of the lead safety agency from a national level.
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