Forensic delays stall probes, police tell Moerane Commission

2018-03-12 21:38
A full desk of seniors were expected to testify for SAPS at the Moerane Commission. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

A full desk of seniors were expected to testify for SAPS at the Moerane Commission. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Durban – The slow rate of return on forensic evidence was a significant problem hampering the speed of police investigations, the Moerane Commission heard on Monday.

Senior KwaZulu-Natal police officers presented themselves before the commission as they were quizzed on numerous testimonies indicting poor police work.

Brigadier Tebogo Mbhele, the provincial head of organised crime, conceded that the slow rate of forensics was a trend.

Mbhele said it could be considered a weak link in investigations, contributing to the frustrations of families and communities.

READ: KZN top cop a no show at Moerane Commission

Major General Dumezweni Chiliza – a former uMlazi cluster commander – then chimed in and said that, even though there were delays, they were "not too long".

"In KZN, we have our own lab. But after floods last year, our lab in Amanzimtoti was closed. All KZN analysis had to be taken to Gauteng. This causes more backlog on that side (the Pretoria forensic lab), causing a delay in investigations."

Chiliza then had to defend the Crime Intelligence division of the police, after evidence leader, advocate Bheki Manyathi, highlighted the poor perception of the police division at the commission.

"Some have come to the commission and said that crime intelligence is almost non-existent. How does Crime Intelligence work?" Manyathi asked.

Chiliza replied that Crime Intelligence was very much in working order, particularly in cash-in-transit heists.

"The unit is tasked with collecting intelligence and supporting operations units, such as detectives and the national intervention unit (NIU). We don't mention that Crime Intelligence prevents many cash-in-transit crimes, for example."

Politically-motivated crime vs cash-in-transit heists

Manyathi then questioned why police were not as successful with politically-motivated crime as opposed to heists.

Chiliza said: "Like we have said before, we often have witnesses backing down or not turning up [at] court. We get intelligence from informers but in political cases, it becomes more complex."

He went on to maintain that people "refused to file statements to police".

KwaZulu-Natal's acting provincial commissioner Major General Bheki Langa was not present on the final day of police testimony at the commission in Durban on Monday.

Langa is apparently on "official police business" in Mozambique.

He was meant to testify at a previous sitting but left early due to "other commitments". He was informed by Commissioner Chairperson Marumo Moerane that a separate day would be reserved for his testimony.

Moerane was visibly displeased at Langa's non-attendance.

Monday was the final day of police testimony.

Evidence leaders were due to give closing statements by Wednesday.

Read more on:    durban  |  police  |  moerane commission

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