Why do criminal cases get thrown out of court when there are witnesses and evidence?
That was the key question posed to senior police officials who were giving evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday before the commission on political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
Commission chairman Advocate Marumo Moerane wanted to find out from the police why it was so difficult for them to crack cases‚ despite the presence of state witnesses and evidence like spent cartridges on the scene.
He also made reference to the case of the late Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa‚ who was shot and killed on October 26 2014 during a suspected botched robbery at the home of his girlfriend‚ pop singer Kelly Khumalo‚ in Vosloorus‚ Johannesburg.
Four years later no one has been arrested in connection with the murder that shocked South Africa and the international soccer community‚ despite the fact that there were seven witnesses to the incident.
“As far as the public are concerned‚ if a crime is committed‚ they expect an investigation to take place. And the public also expect successful conclusion of the investigation‚ particularly in the case where the crime was committed in the presence of witnesses and where there is real evidence in the form of spent cartridges and that sort of thing‚” said Moerane.
“Now‚ in general terms‚ why do some of those investigations become stagnant? I am speaking very generally‚ and if you want to illustrate the point you may illustrate it with reference to the Senzo Meyiwa investigation.”
In response‚ Major General Pitso Petrus Ramatsoele said crime scene management is the most important tool to resolve criminal cases.
Ramatsoele is a senior police official from the detective services in Pretoria. He was one of six senior police officials who were giving evidence before the commission.
Ramatsoele told the commission that there could be many reasons why a case is not solved‚ even though there are leads on the crimes.
“It can be many reasons. That’s why it is so important that investigators understand the principles of crime scene management because if you fail at that first stage‚ already 50% of your case is gone. That is why it’s important that crime scene management is emphasised more than anything else‚” he said.
Ramatsoele testified that the moment people trample on the crime scene‚ they destroy the evidence.
“Sometimes eye witnesses are there but during the process when statements have to be obtained some witnesses do not want to come forward because of different reasons. But all in all‚ what I can say is: the basic golden rule is the crime scene must be managed properly. If that is not done‚ the potential of losing the case is very high‚” he said.
The commission continues on Thursday with evidence from the National Prosecuting Authority.
BY BONGANI MTHETHWA -TimesLIVE
Source: TMG Digital