Cape Flats Convictions: From Crisis to Catastrophe
The latest information received on the conviction rate crisis of the Cape Flats from the National Government sheds some light on why it appears that the gangsters are acting with impunity.
In June this year, as part of my oversight role over the South African Police Service (SAPS), I requested information on the number of successful convictions in Hanover Park. The information I received from SAPS was shocking - over a three-year period, zero convictions had been secured out of 87 cases of gang-related murder and attempted murder in Hanover Park.
My colleague in the National Assembly has now been informed by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development that since 2007/2008 until 2011/2012, out of 197 cases of murder registered at the Phillippi SAPS Station (responsible for Hanover Park), there have only been 35 convictions. This is a disastrous 17.7% success ratio over five years. If one considers the convictions against the number of prosecutions finalised it is only slightly better at a 25.3% success ratio for convicting murderers. This means that, to date, at least 75% of the murders in Hanover Park and the surrounding area have gone unpunished!
In Bishop Lavis the conviction rate is disturbingly less than 10% over the last five years.
Table: Murder cases over the last five years (2007/2008 - 2011/2012):
|Cases referred for prosecution||Finalised||Acquitted||Convicted||Conviction rate|
In total, over the past five years, for Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, Elsies River, Manenberg and Bishop Lavis, SAPS referred 1 469 murder cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Of the 1 469 murders, 921 prosecutions were finalised and 174 convictions were secured. This means that over a five-year period only 11.8% of the murder cases have seen someone convicted for their crimes. Again, against cases finalised there is only an 18.8% success ratio. This is simply not good enough. Where are the specialised units? Clearly there is a lack of quality evidence being collected by SAPS to secure these convictions.
The best way to make the people of the Western Cape safe from drugs and gangs is through targeted, sustained and specialised interventions. Specialised units have been identified as a policing need and priority for the Western Cape by Provincial Cabinet; the units have also been endorsed by the Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, in the National Development Plan, and are necessary if we are to tackle drugs and gangs effectively.
Specialised policing units have proven to be an effective strategy as they offer:
- Dedicated teams working solely on specific crime categories.
- Specialist skills and expertise needed to investigate, detect, arrest and ensure successful convictions.
- Detectives who have full knowledge of often complex legislation and what is often sophisticated organised crime.
- Specialised units are adaptable to changing environments and modus operandi and have the capacity to build up intelligence.
Spokesperson for Minister Plato
Cell: 072 623 4499