Bail shock at Mahikeng police station
Johannesburg - A parliamentary committee has called for a full probe into the way bail is granted to suspects in Mahikeng.
The police portfolio committee is shocked at discovering that police in Mahikeng grant bail to people arrested for serious crimes such as assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and malicious damage to property, committee chairperson Sindi Chikunga said on Tuesday.
The committee called for a full investigation into the matter, which was discovered when proof of payment books for bail were scrutinised during an oversight visit to the Mahikeng police station on Monday, she said.
"We need a full, detailed investigation and report on this matter. If it was one case we would understand that it was a mistake, but the entire bail receipt book is filled with these incidents."
The committee was also shocked to discover that the bail conditions file at the community service centre was also not properly managed.
Are bail conditions being met?
For instance, the file had papers that needed to be signed, but did not explain the conditions under which people were granted bail.
"Things like how often a person needs to present themselves to the station to sign are not accompanying the paper the person signs on," Chikunga said.
"We cannot tell if the people reporting, as required by their bail conditions, are meeting those conditions that they were released on."
Officials present could not explain how this situation was possible.
"If you go through the file carefully there might be crimes committed there," she said.
Other incidences observed included that of a person who had been an awaiting-trial detainee for two years and nine months at the station cells.
Case dockets missing
Committee members found contraband, shoelaces, and shaving blades in some cells at the station.
The committee also found that 59 case dockets went missing at the station. There were investigations initiated on the missing dockets, but it was not clear what would happen afterwards.
Also, there was limited space to store dockets and the office was soon going to run out of room.
"However, there are no plans to deal with this eventuality. The committee acknowledged that there were SA Police Service members at the station who were doing a great job despite these challenges. We urge them to continue being a beacon of hope at the station," Chikunga said.
The committee is on an oversight visit to the North West this week and will be visiting Itsoseng police station on Tuesday, Stella on Wednesday, Potchefstroom on Thursday, and Bedwang on Friday.