89 Gender-based violence cases struck off the court roll within six months due to Police inefficiencies. Between April 2023 and September 2023.

89 Gender-based violence cases struck off the court roll within six months due to Police inefficiencies. Between April 2023 and September 2023. Image: SABC News.

Western Cape courts remove 89 GBV cases from rolls in six months

Within six months in 2023, 89 GBV cases were removed from court rolls due to poor police work, according to a Western Cape watchdog.

89 Gender-based violence cases struck off the court roll within six months due to Police inefficiencies. Between April 2023 and September 2023.

89 Gender-based violence cases struck off the court roll within six months due to Police inefficiencies. Between April 2023 and September 2023. Image: SABC News.

Between April 2023 and September 2023, during the first and second quarters in the Western Cape, 89 cases of gender-based violence (GBV) were removed from the court roll within six months due to police inefficiencies.

GBV cases struck off in the Western Cape

According to the Court Watching Briefs (CWB) unit of the Western Cape Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety (POCS), a total of 243 cases were monitored during this period across 25 courts, which were linked to 58 South African Police Services (SAPS) stations in the province.

Shockingly, these cases were struck off the court roll due to inefficiencies within SAPS.

63 cases were monitored across eight courts, involving 21 SAPS stations. In the second quarter, 180 cases were monitored across 17 courts, involving 37 SAPS stations.

The CWB Unit, established by POCS, aims to bolster their capacity for overseeing the SAPS, as outlined in Section 206(3) of the Constitution. Both reports have been conveyed to the SAPS for their reference.

The courts that were monitored 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 police stations involved in these cases include 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.

Status of GBV cases monitored: Quarters 1 and 2/ April 2023 -September 2023

Categories of inefficiencies: Quarters 1 and 2GBV Count
Cases withdrawn because the dockets were not at court34
Cases withdrawn because the investigation was incomplete53
Witnesses not subpoenaed1
Accused not brought to court 1

Reagen Allen, the Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, expressed deep concern over the distressing statistics, remarking that they evoke a sense of bitterness.

 He emphasised the urgent need to halt the ongoing GBV that is afflicting society. 

Allen criticised the perceived failure of SAPS and the broader criminal justice system in adequately addressing these issues, particularly affecting vulnerable individuals in communities. 

He noted the worrying possibility that the monitored cases might not reflect the complete extent of the situation. 

Allen called for significant improvements within the criminal justice system to combat GBV effectively.

“We initiated our CWB in 2013, which has now also been adopted by all other provinces in the country, to ascertain the effectiveness and efficiency of SAPS’ investigations. 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,” added Minister Reagen Allen.

“I will be engaging both the SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile and the Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Nicolette Bell, as we must gain insight into what must improve to ensure these types of results are not repeated.

“The pain, suffering and injustice that the GBV 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 minimise the number of cases that are struck off the roll due to their inefficiencies.”

“We are not merely conducting tick boxing exercise. We want our oversight to lead to better service delivery. It is critical that 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,” concluded Allen.

Ramaphosa speaks about femicide at SONA 2024

In 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa held the State of the Nation Address

“The nation has been galvanised – across communities, government, civil society, religious groupings, the judiciary and parliament – to end the crisis of violence perpetrated by men against women.”

Ramaphosa addressed the nation again on 2024 stating that “We are dedicated to eradicating GBV and femicide from our country by fostering partnerships with civil society and the private sector, thereby creating social agreements aimed at this crucial goal”

The Emergency Action Plan on GBV and Femicide, unveiled during a dedicated parliamentary session last October, is presently underway.

It centres on bolstering the criminal justice system, improving legal and policy structures concerning GBV and femicide, ensuring comprehensive care, support, and healing for survivors, and empowering women economically across the nation.

The government departments have collectively redirected R1.6 billion by the end of this fiscal year to fund and execute the plan.

Significant advancements have been achieved, particularly in critical legal reforms:

  1. Amendments to the Domestic Violence Act are underway to enhance protections for victims within violent domestic relationships.
  2. Adjustments to the Sexual Offences Act are in progress to expand the scope of sex offenders whose details must be listed in the National Register for Sex Offenders.
  3. New legislation is being developed to strengthen bail and sentencing requirements in cases related to GBV.