Sixty-six cases relating to gender-based and domestic violence were among 92 cases struck off the roll in courts in 11 high priority areas in Cape Town monitored by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety
According to the department’s Court Watching Brief report, 92 cases were struck off the roll between 1 July and 30 September 2020 due to “police inefficiencies”.
Of the 92, 52 were as a result of the docket not being in court.
The areas under review were Bishop Lavis, Mfuleni, Delft, Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Harare, Philippi, Khayelitsha, Philippi East, Kraaifontein and Ravensmead.
In a statement, Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said the 66 cases of gender-based violence included sexual offences, domestic violence, assault and assault with intention to cause grievous bodily harm, contravention of a protection order, murder and attempted murder.
In one such case, the accused first appeared in court on 14 October 2019 and the case was postponed to 25 November 2019. On this date, it was again postponed to 14 January 2020 for further investigation.
On 14 January 2020, the investigation was incomplete, and it was postponed to 14 February 2020. The investigation was incomplete and a final postponement was granted on 4 May 2020.
On the latter date, the court was informed the docket was not available and another final postponement until 29 June 2020 was made. On this date, the case was struck off the roll because the docket was not at court.
“As a country and province, we are plagued by [gender-based violence and femicide] and [domestic violence],” said Fritz in a statement. “We must work together at every level of government, using every tool at our disposal to ensure that women feel safe and equal. Protection orders are an essential tool in this regard.
“It is therefore unacceptable that the strength of this tool is undermined by inefficient and ineffective police work.”
In a case regarding possession of a firearm and ammunition, the accused first appeared on 31 October 2019 and the case was postponed to 11 February 2020 for further investigation. On that date, it was again postponed to 17 March 2020 as the docket was not brought to court. It was later postponed to 22 April 2020 for a regional court decision. On that date, the court was closed due to a Covid-19 infection.The case was again postponed to 15 May 2020 and 26 June 2020 for a regional court decision. On 26 June 2020, it was eventually struck off the roll as the docket was not at court.
Fritz said: “While the pandemic has undoubtedly slowed the cogs of our criminal justice system, it is inexcusable that someone who allegedly poses a threat to the lives of others be allowed to roam the streets freely. These charges are serious, and it is unacceptable that dockets are not present at court.”
He added he had written to the provincial commissioner of police for comment on the cases removed from the court roll. The report will be submitted, with comments from the provincial commissioner, if provided, to the provincial standing committee on community safety by no later than 30 December 2020. The office of Provincial Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata acknowledged receiving the watching briefs for 1 July to 30 September 2020.
“The SAPS management in the province is currently going through the report in detail with a view to responding to the department of Community Safety in due course,” said spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa.
“At this point it would be premature to give comment on the report. At an appropriate time soon a detailed response to the report will be made available.”
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