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Compiled by Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist

283 criminal cases dropped from court roll due to ‘police mistakes’

Of these cases, 77 were GBV-related incidents mostly reported by distraught women seeking help.

Between October 2022 and March this year, police inefficiencies and administrative errors forced the courts to threw out 283 criminal cases in the Western Cape, including 77 involving Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Now, Reagen Allen, the Western Cape MEC for Police Oversight and Community Safety, is demanding accountability and wants heads to roll.

According to Allen, during these six months, the appointed Court Watching Briefs (CWB) unit watched these cases closely in 33 different courts connected to 82 police stations.

“What they found is very troubling and shows a broken system,” Allen said.

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GBV cases hit the hardest

The CWB unit reported 77 GBV-related incidents were struck off the court roll. The unit confirmed these cases were predominantly reported by women, who were seeking justice for the traumatic experiences they had endured.

“Shockingly, these cases were abandoned due to avoidable issues such as missing case files and incomplete investigations,” Allen said.

Widespread inefficiencies

According to the unit, of the 283 cases, 68 were withdrawn because vital case files were not present in court, while a staggering 104 were dropped due to incomplete investigations.

An additional 26 cases were discarded because forensic reports were missing. There were even instances where accused failed to appear in court or crucial witnesses were not subpoenaed.

Police stations in trouble

Allen said the extent of the problem became even clearer when identifying the police stations most affected by these inefficiencies.

“Knysna, Vredendal, and George topped the list for cases where vital documents were absent, and Lutzville, Kraaifontein, and Kuilsriver led in cases where investigations were left incomplete,” he said.

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Demand for answers and change

“These statistics paint a very grim picture, which deeply disturbs me. More so that these are real people who have been dismally failed by the South African Police Service and the entire criminal [justice ] system,” the MEC said.

He has now reportedly called for immediate accountability within Saps, questioning whether officers responsible for these failures would be held to account.

He also stated his intention to engage with the Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions to understand where the breakdown in the system is occurring and to work toward eradicating these shortcomings.

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