Western Cape records marked decline in the rate of convictions for all crimes
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Cape Town - The rate of convictions for all crimes in the Western Cape has declined by 15%, from 40% in 2016 to a low of 25% at present.
Of the 193 248 new cases lodged at district courts in 2016, only 76 736 cases resulted in convictions, and for the last financial year, of the 100 973 new cases brought forward, only 24 001 resulted in convictions.
These shocking numbers were revealed in a written reply by Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz to a question by community safety standing committee chairperson, Reagan Allen, in the provincial legislature.
Allen said that overall, the conviction rate for the past five years stood at an average of just 33%. Similarly, only 24% of cases for the past five financial years were resolved via the Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADRM) at lower level courts, and that meant that 57% of cases brought to court had been successfully managed.
"During July 2019, the Department of Community Safety (Docs) assessed the state of detective services in the province and found that close to 50% of detectives had more than 200 dockets each to investigate, and that the service experienced a shortage of about 500 detectives," he said.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said that based on the NPA’s performance information, there had not been a decline in the conviction rate.
"In each year, the NPA has achieved a conviction rate in excess of 95% in respect of all prosecutions finalised with a verdict," said Ntabazalila.
According to Ntabazalila, in the 2020/2021 financial year, there were 100 973 new cases enrolled, 25 288 verdict finalisations, 24 001 convictions, and 18 640 ADRM finalisations, and with a conviction rate of 95%.
Manenberg activist Roegchanda Pascoe said: "You can't expect to have successful convictions with the rate of corruption equal to crime. We need a safety sector that will serve and do justice to the plight of the people.
“At this moment, it has nothing to do with the plight of the people, it is all about securing my space, financially at the cost of human life," said Pascoe.
ANC provincial spokesperson for community safety, Mesuli Kama, called on all spheres of government to work together "to get the basics right and prevent crime, especially in hot-spot areas".
Kama said that the police were experiencing many challenges that affected conviction rates, which vindicated all those who had been calling on the national government to fix the skewed allocation of police resources.
Whistle-blower and community activist Colin Arendse said it was clear that what the government was preaching from the pulpit was not translating to tangible results on the ground.
"There really is no point in local and provincial governments in the Western Cape complaining about the poor conviction rate when the service delivery failure under their watch is a direct cause of the formation of gangs and the resultant increase in crime," said Arendse.