On Saturday, police arrested four armed men — and well done to them!
Were these men about to commit a crime? I don’t know, but it certainly seems possible. After all, they were found with four firearms one of them an R4 rifle! This is the same rifle used by the SA Army, so you don’t really want people running around with those. It’s also one of the most common weapons used in armed robberies, cash-in-transit heists, etc. Yeah, you really don’t people running around with these weapons.
So, well done SAPS. Um…not really. You see, THEY LET THEM GO! Why? Because they did not charge them in time.
I’m not even joking. Here’s an extract from a press release I received on Tuesday night:
The Acting Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza, has learnt with shock about the release of five suspects from police custody before their appearance in court.
It appears that the team, which had done fantastic work in apprehending the suspects, for some reason did not follow through by ensuring that the suspects were charged and presented before court within 48 hours, as required by law.
Major General Ntlemeza said that the management of the Hawks viewed this incident as a serious matter and has ordered an internal investigation to be instituted immediately.
The suspects were arrested on Saturday afternoon and were found in possession of four firearms including an R4 rifle. They were supposed to have been charged and to have appeared in court Tuesday afternoon.
So, yeah, that’s a serious bungle. How can something like this even happen??? I know how: SAPS detectives are not good enough, are not well trained and carrying too heavy a caseload.
Let me end this with a quote from a piece I wrote in February:
Undertrained, overburdened and inept detectives who regularly bungle crime scenes are to blame for the fact that hundreds of murders go unsolved every year.
According to experts, many detectives do not have the necessary skills and police stations lack the equipment for them to do their jobs. Detectives also carry too big a caseload, hampering their investigations.
The Institute for Security Studies says investigators have an average caseload of about 100 crimes at any given time – far more than the 50 to 60 that would be regarded as manageable.
Official figures in the police force’s 2013-14 annual report show that a suspect is identified or arrested in just 46% of serious crimes, a detection rate that is regularly criticised in parliament.