Magistrate slams detectives over lack of progress in armed robbery case
KIRSTENHOF detectives were hauled over the coals in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court this week for making no progress over a period of a month in an armed robbery investigation.
And, even though they tried to explain the situation, magistrate Goolam Bawa was having none of it.
To make matters worse, the defence attorney also objected to the request for a postponement, pointing out his client was stuck behind bars while the investigation continued.
According to the charge sheet Calvin Jones, a 28-yearold Simon’s Town man is charged with aggravated robbery for allegedly robbing a man of his cellphone at knifepoint on August 18.
He was arrested the same day and made his first court appearance on August 22.
At a second court appearance on September 1, the case was postponed for a month.
When the matter was called on Tuesday, the State requested a further postponement to give the investigating officer more time to take statements from four witnesses – including police colleagues – and so that outstanding crime scene photographs could be obtained.
But Bawa was not happy and asked for an explanation for the police’s failure to make progress with the investigation, pointing out more than a month had passed since the last appearance and even more time since Jones had made his first court appearance.
He also pointed out requests such as the one the State had made were made far too often.
The irate magistrate even suggested the police commissioner should perhaps be notified.
Defence attorney Rustin Ravat was also opposed to the idea of another lengthy postponement, pointing out it prejudiced his client, who was in custody because he could not afford to pay the R1 000 bail amount the court had previously granted him.
In the end, the magistrate granted the State’s request, but insisted on the investigating officer’s presence at the next court appearance, on November 3.
Speaking on behalf of the Criminal Committee of the Cape Law Society, attorney William Booth said in his experience many cases were struck from the court roll due to insufficiencies in police investigations.
This was “completely unacceptable”, he said, adding some cases involved serious charges.
Booth said every accused had a right to a speedy trial.