Minister Fritz notes failures to charge those arrested during SANDF intervention
Minister Fritz notes failures to charge those arrested during SANDF intervention, offers Court Watching Brief services
We are nearly five weeks into the deployment of the SANDF, and residents on the Cape Flats are rightfully beginning to question the impact of the deployment in their communities. Murder rates remain high and patrols reportedly last no longer than three hours at a time. It is imperative that we are provided with further information on the SANDF’s deployment plans and tactics, but this information is kept from us.
The army was deployed to assist SAPS, Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies in stabilising and pushing back the high levels of gang-related crime in our communities. Police Minister, Bheki Cele, has boasted that this intervention has resulted in high levels of police visibility in the most gang-afflicted communities, the confiscation of illegal firearms and the arrests of over 1000 individuals with outstanding warrants of arrest.
Having said that, it is concerning that these arrests have not resulted in charges and convictions. I have been informed that the majority of those arrested were released within 72 hours due to detective services’ failure to positively link the arrests to crimes and/or to complete the requisite investigations.
I therefore urgently call on Minister Bheki Cele to make use of my Department’s Court Watching Briefs Unit to track arrests made during the deployment, and to ensure they lead to the successful prosecution of guilty parties.
Additionally, the Transport Management Centre (TMC) in Goodwood is a valuable resource that has been availed for 24 hour use by SAPS who have not used it optimally in this regard.
As I have highlighted before, our criminal justice system is held hostage by the poor state of detective services and the SAPS. Ultimately, Detectives are responsible for gathering evidence for criminal cases. The quality of their work determines whether a case is solved or dropped. Unfortunately, not only are there resource shortages and a lack of training amongst our detectives, but our detectives are also completely overburdened. More than ever, we need the SAPS’ detective services to step up and ensure that criminals are prosecuted.
The Western Cape Government has reiterated countless times that the deployment of the SANDF will not in itself defeat crime in the Province and that the deployment should be accompanied by an array of developmental programmes.
We must all work together to overthrow the empires of organised crime that plague our province. The ability of gangs to rule through fear, intimidation and murder can only be stopped if all spheres of government, law enforcement, the criminal justice system and communities work together. When we present a united front, we will push back the boundaries of gangsterism and succeed in taking back our communities.
I further call on the good citizens of this province to continue making use of the Illegal Firearms Hotline which can be contacted on 078 330 9333. There is a reward of R10 000 to individuals who provide accurate information on the illegal distribution of firearms.
Under my leadership, the Department of Community Safety remains committed to using every tool at its disposal and working with all communities and each stakeholder to make the province safer.