Mag­is­trate slams de­tec­tives over lack of progress in armed rob­bery case

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

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.

fa­tima.schroeder@inl.co.za

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