DoCS’ Watching Briefs scoops top provincial award
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
The Department of Community Safety’s Court Watching Briefs initiative, a first in South Africa, has recently won Productivity South Africa’s Western Cape Regional Productivity award for the public sector.
I congratulate the Watching Briefs team spearheaded by Adv JC Gerber for their commitment and hard work in monitoring criminal court cases in order to identify ineffectiveness and inefficiency of police officers in the performance of their duties in terms of the Province’s Constitutional mandate as set out in section 206(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996.
Between April and June 2015, the Watching Briefs unit successfully observed 28 court cases, including cases of possession of fire arms, aggravated robbery, murder, and attempted murder, where policing inefficiencies were present, such as:
- Dockets not being available at court (9); and
- Failure of the investigating officer to timeously complete the investigation (19)
Between October 2013 and March 2014 alone, the Watching Briefs unit has monitored hundreds of cases and identified 71 which were removed from the court roll due to inefficiencies from the SAPS. These cases predominantly relate to drug related crimes but also include murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances and rape.
Most importantly, of the identified cases, 44% (31) were reinstated on the court roll and 39% (28) resulted in disciplinary action being instituted against the responsible police officers. I want to thank the SAPS Provincial Management for working with us to improve the effectiveness of their work.
The reinstatement of cases on the court roll not only shows the effectiveness of the unit and ensures a better quality of police service in the Western Cape but also awards victims, their families and communities at large the opportunity to have perpetrators face their full day in court.
During the 2015/2016 financial year, the Watching Briefs programme has become a permanent function of the Department of Community Safety and will be extended to at least 25 courts in the province with a particular focus on gang related cases and those involving serious and violent crimes.
We look forward to many more successes of the Watching Briefs unit as it allows the Department of Community Safety to work even better with the SAPS to identify areas of improvement enabling the SAPS to provide a better quality of safety service delivery to everyone in the Western Cape.
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