At least 161 cases related to Gender-Based Violence (GBV), femicide and sexual offences from December 2020 until August 2021 have been struck off the court roll due to DNA evidence that was unavailable within a reasonable time frame.
According to the provincial standing committee chairperson for social development Gillion Bosman, a parliamentary reply revealed that the Western Cape Court Watching Brief (CWB) Unit monitored and recorded these cases.
Bosman says the number of such cases might very well be higher than 161 because the CWB monitors a sample of all court cases for the purpose of highlighting potential police inefficiencies.
“In this way, the CWB is a critical tool to aid the furtherance of justice, and one which only the Western Cape Government carries out. I have now written to the Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Services, Maj. Gen. Thembisile Patekile, to determine what actions have been taken in light of the CWB report,” Bosman said.
Bosman went on to say that earlier this month, he made it public that 37 647 sexual offence cases are backlogged at the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory as well as submitted a dossier to the President’s National Council on Gender-Based Violence on behalf of residents regarding this crucial matter.
“This highlighted that the DNA specimens are backlogged as a result of SAPS mismanagement in Pretoria, where a failed tendering process to ensure the maintenance of the DNA processing machines dates back to 2019,” Bosman added.
National Police Minister Bheki Cele, together with SAPS management, also held a virtual meeting with various GBV activists in June to discuss a way forward after nearly 10 000 rape cases were reported in the first three months of 2021. The meeting came after Cele outlined in his crime statistics report that 9 518 rapes were reported to the police.