Minister Fritz calls on SAPS to make better use of Court Watching Briefs | Western Cape Government



Minister Fritz calls on SAPS to make better use of Court Watching Briefs

2 October 2019

During the Standing Committee on Community Safety today, the Department of Community Safety released its report on ‘Measuring Police Efficiency and Effectiveness in the Western Cape’. Minister Fritz has called on SAPS to make better use of the Court Watching Brief reports.

According to the Western Cape Community Safety Act, Section 8 authorises the Department to collect information and maintain an integrated information system. The report covers the period of April 2018 and March 2019, the same period monitored by the annual crime statistics.

Minister Fritz said, “The figures below indicate that the Court Watching Brief Unit is not being adequately utilised by SAPS in the Western Cape. This should be immediately rectified as the National Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has previously recognised the effectiveness of this programme and called for it to be rolled out in other provinces. I therefore call on SAPS to make better use of this critically important programme which aims to identify SAPS’ systematic failures.”

The report revealed a low response from SAPS to their own systematic failures identified by the Court Watching Brief Unit.



Response by SAPS to the systematic Failures



Apr–Jun 2018

Jul-Sep 2018

Oct-Dec 2018

Jan-Mar 2018

Apr-Jun 2019

Cases reported by Watching Briefs






Cases that were responded to by SAPS



None reported


None reported

Number of disciplinary files opened by SAPS



None reported


None reported

Minister Fritz said, “Members of the Court Watching Briefs Unit attend court hearings to observe procedure and detect inefficiencies of the SAPS. When inefficiencies are detected, quarterly reports are compiled and referred to the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS. This allows SAPS to take further steps such as placing the case back on the court roll or for the necessary disciplinary action to be taken. However, where no response is received from SAPS, it is unclear whether any action is being taken to address its systematic failures.”

In terms of possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, some of the systematic failures include:

  • 52 cases were struck off the court roll in 2018/19;
  • 32 investigations were incomplete;
  • 16 dockets were not at court; and
  • 4 forensic reports or ballistic reports were outstanding in the investigation.

A significant number of these cases were recorded in Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Phillipi and Philippi East, Harare and Manenberg.

Minister Fritz further added, “In one case of possession of firearm and ammunition recorded at Athlone Court on 6 September 2018 the matter was postponed to 13 September 2018 for bail information and then to 15 October 2018 for a bail application where bail was granted. The matter was postponed to 11 December 2018 then 5 February 2019 for further investigation. On 5 February 2019 the accused was not at court and the matter resumed on 6 February 2019 but was postponed to 19 February 2019 for further investigation. On that date, the matter was postponed to 26 March 2019 because the investigation was still not finalised. On 26 March 2019 the case was withdrawn because the investigation was incomplete. This run around has a catastrophic impact on our criminal justice system and it is vitally important that SAPS both acknowledge and address it.”

Under the leadership of Minister Fritz, the Department of Community Safety will continue to use every tool at its disposal to safeguard the Province.

Attention broadcasters, please find English audio clip attached.

Media Enquiries: 

Cayla Ann Tomás Murray
Spokesperson for Minister Albert Fritz
Tel: 021 483 8550
Cell: 064 121 7959
Email:   ­