The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has commended the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the swift action they took against officials who seemed not to have acted on a gender-based violence case that was televised recently.
Committee Chairperson, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe, said although the committee commend the action by the authorities against these officials, it remains concerned that it took the intervention of the committee, after a media report, for the public to receive the service it deserves from public servants.
Mr Magwanishe's comments followed a television broadcast by the eNCA, on the Checkpoint current affairs programme on the night of 27 October 2020, of a video clip of court proceedings in which the accused applied for bail. The case refers to an alleged sexual assault in a gym. The aforesaid video clip created the impression that the prosecutor in the matter was seen reading a newspaper during court proceedings whilst the presiding officer was delivering judgement. It further appeared that the investigation officers did not visit the crime scene and at some stage came to court without the police docket.
Following this, the committee requested a report on the matter. In response, the committee was informed that on 9 November 2020 a report was received from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP): Johannesburg, Adv Chauke, in relation to the conduct of the prosecutor. When the video clip in question was brought to the attention of the NPA, on 28 October 2020, the DPP: Johannesburg, advised that it appeared that the matter was in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court and that he would make sure that the prosecutor concerned accounts accordingly. "It is clear, therefore, that the NPA reacted immediately," said Mr Magwanishe.
Furthermore, the committee has been assured that the NPA will deal with the issue of discipline within its mandate and keep the committee informed about the development.
Regarding action against the SAPS members mentioned in the video clip, the committee was informed that both were consulted on their action and temporarily transferred to visible policing units whilst an internal investigation is ongoing. The SAPS indicated that these members' conduct in court were "unprofessional, embarrassing and detrimental to the image of the SAPS".
"The committee would like to commend the media for bringing such matters to its attention, and would encourage others to do the same in order for us to root out elements that give the public services a bad name and are not of service to the South African community at large. We will continue to monitor these internal investigations."