Senior cop: Station a dumping ground

2014-02-19 18:50
Police (File, AP)

Police (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The detective unit at Khayelitsha police station was a dumping ground for incapable officers, a senior police officer said in Cape Town on Wednesday.

"When I came to Khayelitsha [in 2011], what I can say is I found a unit in disarray," the station's head of detectives Colonel Johan Marais told the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into alleged police inefficiency in the area.

"I found demotivated people, people with too many dockets. I found a dysfunctional crime office and a myriad of other problems."

Marais said he was put in charge of people who should never have been detectives, who had long absentee records, and some who were so sick they were only capable of manning the telephone.

He said it took a while to get the unit in order because labour laws had to be followed.

Detective unit re-structured

Before his time in Khayelitsha, Marais founded an organised crime intelligence unit in the province in 1991 and received training from Scotland Yard and the FBI, among other organisations.

He told the inquiry he re-structured the detective unit into smaller pockets, with five officers each focusing on murders, robberies, and tracing outstanding suspects.

Two officers each were assigned to cases involving government officials, and reckless or negligent driving. One officer focused on fraud. The remainder of the unit focused on other cases.

"If we can specialise more in a serious investigation, we might get more and better results," he said in defence of his strategy.

He was asked how he tackled demotivated officers.

"I got them together and we braaied [barbequed]. At a braai the truth comes out."

A process

Marais said he did not know if it was the meat or the "juice" they drank, but officers were relaxed and told him about their problems and aspirations.

He held interviews with his team after the braai and asked them to motivate why they did not want to be detectives anymore or work in a certain environment.

"It was a process. It's not a thing you could do one day and then around the world the next day," he said.

The commission heard Marais had initially been in charge of 68 officers, but the number had since dropped to 58.

Seven officers had been nominated to special task teams or investigation groups, he said.

"Unfortunately, I don't know why but they always look to Khayelitsha. I've been fighting with them every time because they take my people.

"I was not consulted. I would never have agreed to let them go."


He was asked if receiving more detectives would improve the unit's performance.

"Even if we double the staff complement, it's not going to be enough. We unfortunately work with backlogs," he replied.

When officers left the unit dockets were re-assigned to their colleagues.

Marais said because officers were not familiar with these cases the dockets often shifted to the bottom of the pile.

"If I get to that docket there could be such a lot of problems that I just open and close it."

The inquiry - headed by retired Constitutional Court judge Kate O'Regan, and advocate Vusi Pikoli - was set up by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille after residents lodged complaints about police inefficiency, which was the apparent cause of a spate of mob justice killings in the area.

Read more on:    police  |  cape town

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

5 crucial questions to ask before you take that job 2014-10-30 08:00

You choose your employer just as much as they choose you. Here are 5 of the most important things you should find out about a company before you sign up.


10 facts about swimming you didn't know

This will make you want to jump right into the pool.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Snors with a cause - creating awareness of male health
Inspiring: Rock climbing with just one leg
Watch! Skateboarders racing cyclists
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

TV Series – 2 for R299

Loads of hot titles to choose from. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may be doing the work and playing the game, but your innovative mind is on a far away planet planning the next big more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.