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Unsolved criminal cases clear indication of declining detective services

An effective detective service is one of the best defences against serious crime and it is becoming more and more evident that this defence is crumbling in South Africa.

According to the reply to a parliamentary question by Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus, to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, it appears that more than 2,5 million of the cases investigated by the detective services in the 2020/21 – 23 financial years are still unfinalized and unsolved.

That is more than 42% of all crimes reported to the police. Over the same period, only 34,25% of the investigations were successful enough for prosecution to be instituted.

During this period, a total of 628 354 warrants for unsolved cases were issued which could not be executed.

In his reply, the Minister said that in the case of unsolved cases, there was insufficient evidence to bring the guilty party or parties to book.

Criminal cases, which have different lapse periods, are not closed and an investigation can be re-opened should new information surface.

The Minister’s reply makes it clear that the police force no longer has the ability to combat serious crime. More than 40% of all reported cases remain unsolved and the chances of successful prosecution by the courts are even slimmer.

For example, research by AfriForum shows that last year, the conviction rate in court for all farm attacks and murders reported to the police between 2019 and 2022 was just 5%.

Last month, the reply to a question from the FF Plus to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, indicated that more than 1,8 million criminal cases dating from 2018/19 could not be tried and concluded due to incomplete dossiers

In addition to this, the National Police Commissioner, Gen. Fanie Masemola, revealed at the end of last year to the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police that the police service has lost a total of 8 400 detectives since 2016.

The number of detectives plummeted from 26 000 in 2016/17 to a mere 17 000 in October 2023. To make matters worse, many of the detectives lost by the Service are seasoned and experienced police members who go on pension or are headhunted by the private sector.

Clearly, the entire criminal justice system has basically collapsed under ANC rule.

Nothing illustrates it better than the country’s murder rate. Six years ago, it was 34 per 100 000 of the population. It increased to 36,5 in 2022, and it now stands at 45, the second highest in the world.

It is critically important for every person in South Africa that the ANC is ousted and replaced with a competent coalition government of which the FF Plus is part. South Africa has to be rebuilt.

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