Doubts over action on crime stats

The Independent Complaints Directorate has completed its report on alleged manipulation of crime statistics by police officers in Paarl and Oudtshoorn—but questions have been raised about how quickly the prosecuting authorities will act against the officers fingered by the watchdog body.

Sources close to the investigation pointed out that the directorate had recommended prosecution in 29 cases of alleged torture by the Cape Town police more than two years ago, yet it was still awaiting the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision.

The directorate’s Moses Dlamini confirmed that the report on crime statistics has been sent to the prosecuting authority.

Dlamini said the matter has also been referred to the South African Police Service for a decision on whether to take disciplinary action against certain policemen.

Crime intelligence documents leaked to the Mail & Guardian in 2009 revealed that many sexual offences reported at the Paarl, Paarl East, Mbekweni and Wellington police stations had not been registered on the police crime administration system for months or years. Some cases involved children as young as four and five. The decision not to register them was blamed on police officials who wanted to reflect a lower incidence of crime in their area.

Dlamini confirmed that the directorate is still waiting for the NPA’s decision on whether to prosecute 14 members of the former Bellville-South organised crime unit, which now falls under the Hawks.

The source said that just as one set of advocates “completes its work and an indictment is drawn up, so another set is brought in to start looking at the cases all over again”.
According to Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the Western Cape prosecuting authority, national director of public prosecutions Menzi Simelane is not involved in assessing the torture cases.

“Only the director of public prosecutions in the Western Cape, advocate Rodney de Kock, is overseeing the handling of this matter,” he said.
“We have two senior advocates who have been assigned the cases and they are still busy with them.”

The 14 Cape Town-based members of the Hawks were implicated in 2009 in 18 cases of torture, but the number of cases involving some of the officers has now risen to 30. In particular they were accused of involvement in the 2009 death in custody of Sidwell Mkwambi, a 24-year-old New Crossroads resident.

The latest case added to the list of torture allegations is one filed with the directorate by two Khayelitsha men accused of the murder of Swedish honeymooner Anni Dewani in November last year.

Dlamini confirmed that the allegations by the murder accused, Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who claimed they were tortured or assaulted by police in custody, had been handed to the directorate for investigation. The allegations are likely to result in a “trial within a trial” and could affect the extradition hearing of British national Shrien Dewani, who has been accused of planning his wife’s murder.

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country. Read more from Glynnis Underhill

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