A TOTAL of 658 police dockets have disappeared from a number of police detective services in South Africa over the past five years.
The Western Cape had the most missing dockets with 229 followed by Gauteng with 128, then KwaZulu-Natal with 118. No dockets have gone missing in Limpopo since January 2013.
Earlier this year, Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the Freedom Front Plus, asked Minister of Police Bheki Cele about the number of crime dockets that had been lost in each province and separate units of the SAPS each year from January 1, 2013, to April 30 this year.
“What is seen here is widespread corruption and serves as evidence that the criminal justice system fails the people of South Africa and creates an environment in which crime is flourishing,” Groenewald said.
The DA’s spokesperson on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said these numbers brought great shame to KZN.
“(The) victims are sitting at home, believing the police are searching for their rapist, or attacker, or the people who had stolen their vehicles. These dockets could be in relation to murders, but the dockets have disappeared,” Kohler Barnard said.
She hoped that acting provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi would make a difference.
Blessed Gwala, IFP spokesperson on community safety and liaison in KZN, described the loss of crime dockets as an indication of corruption.
“This forms part of the corruption of which the IFP has always raised in the legislature, because it is done deliberately by the police, who are paid to take away those dockets,” said Gwala.
Only eight people had been successfully prosecuted in connection with lost dockets, five were police members, he said. A ring of perpetrators was involved in the corruption, Gwala added.
This meant that the people to whom the matter had been reported also sat on cases, because they did not want to expose colleagues. Gwala said there should be an independent commission to investigate these incidents.
The minister had put in place precautionary measures to avoid the loss of dockets:
Lockable steel cabinets for investigating officers to safeguard case dockets. Registers to control the movement of dockets to and from court. The conducting of regular docket inspections and audits.
Groenewald said Cele’s response to what was being done to combat the problem was extremely disappointing, as it appeared that the old, normal procedures were still being used to protect dockets.
Moses Dlamini, a spokesperson for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), said cases of missing dockets were investigated only in cases of corruption, for instance, if a police person had sold the docket, but it was not part of Ipid’s mandate.
Cele declined to comment and referred the Daily News to his spokesperson, who did not comment at the time of publication.