“We aren’t shocked, in fact the reality is that the Western Cape Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety’s (POCS) Court Watching Briefs (CWB) report is just the tip of a very big iceberg. In our experience, most cases against perpetrators of violence against women and children, and specifically domestic violence, are opened when it is already too late and almost all the cases we take on are plagued by incomplete investigations, delays in forensic reports and incomplete dockets, ending up in the wheels of justice threatening to come off completely, like the case of the 77 gender based violence cases struck off the court roll the past six months.”
“That is why Action Society represent the families of Siphokazi Booi, Alwaba Sondara and many others like them. The police failed to step in for them when they were alive. And without the pressure we put on investigators, and the oversight role we play in court, it is unlikely that their cases would have gotten the attention it deserves.”
Ian Cameron, Director of Community Safety at Action Society, joined the conversation about police inefficiencies in cases of violence against women and children. “SAPS continue to fail thousands of women to get sufficient protection against intimate partners who attack them. Women are literally shown the door to get their own protection orders. Police neglect is letting perpetrators of violence against women walk free because an empty or incomplete docket turns into a get out of jail free card.”
The reality is that incomplete dockets, missing dockets, and gross neglect in gathering and processing crucial evidence to convict perpetrators is only symptoms of the deeply entrenched culture of investigative neglect, poor performance, mismanagement, corruption, obstruction, cover-ups, and abuse of power in the South African Police Service (SAPS).
It is time to purge the police service from the top down, starting with Bheki Cele. A corrupt organisational culture doesn’t happen by accident, it is shaped by the worst behaviour the leadership is willing to tolerate. This goes for the whole SAPS and when you look at the track record of the current top structures of the SAPS, one cannot be surprised why the SAPS is in the state it is.
Action Society suggests the following action to combat crime in South Africa:
- Do a skills audit in the SAPS to determine the merit of appointments and sack members not appointed on merit.
- Polygraph all members – starting with leadership – to determine whether they have been involved in any corrupt activities; if so, sack them.
- Restore crime intelligence capabilities.
- Reinstate specialised units that can effectively deal with serious violent crime without living in the community where they work.
- Crime kingpins, including those with state connections, must be targeted and taken out of operation.
- Restore reservist capabilities, specifically to support specialised units. It is of utmost importance that these reservists do not come from the said communities for intimidation to be limited.
- Train, pay and manage police members properly.
- Implement police devolution in the Western Cape as a proof of concept.