308 cases finalised in a day: whistle-blower accuses Ipid of covering up police brutality
Leaked memos, reports, correspondence, a signed affidavit and a statement to the Zondo inquiry into state capture contain whistle-blower allegations that police brutality cases were prematurely “completed” or “closed” at the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
This was allegedly done to clear cases from the workload or to inflate Ipid's performance statistics.
Viewfinder’s debut investigation exposes how underfunding, state capture and statistical manipulation at the directorate failed victims and helped violent criminals in the police service to escape accountability.
Viewfinder is a new accountability journalism unit, launched in partnership with the Daily Maverick and GroundUp.
South Africans lodged 42,365 criminal complaints against the police between April 2012 and March 2019.
The exposé showed that of that number, only 531 Ipid cases resulted in successful criminal prosecutions during the same period.
Ipid, which investigates criminal complaints against the police, measures performance partly by how many cases it completes in a year.
In theory, the “completed” status means a “quality investigation” was done. Such cases should then be handed over to state prosecutors.
However, this did not happen and a number of cases were “prematurely” closed.
This happened for years, despite the public protector warning about it in 2012. There was also no evidence to show that the issue was ever dealt with, Viewfinder said.
The report highlighted one day, March 31 2016, when 308 cases were marked “completed” by Ipid.
It quoted an Ipid investigator, interviewed on condition of anonymity, who was also the case worker on some of the files completed that day. “The main aim of Ipid is to move as many cases from ‘active’ to ‘decision ready’ (‘completed’) as quickly as possible. By itself, the ‘decision-ready’ status is meaningless. It has no actual impact on the offender. Without an arrest, without a prosecution, without a conviction, there is no accountability.”
Sometimes the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) sent poorly investigated dockets back to this particular Ipid office, along with queries, the investigator said. Some of these dockets were then “thrown on to a pile” and ignored, because, as far as Ipid’s case management system was concerned, the cases were complete: “a job well done".
“Ipid is failing poor people and misleading the public. There is no justice for the victims,” the investigator said.
Viewfinder also interviewed the head of investigation at Ipid, Matthews Sesoko, who said allegations of statistical manipulation were confined to the period when he and former Ipid director Robert McBride were suspended.
Are you a police brutality victim whose case was poorly handled? Are you an Ipid investigator? Viewfinder would like to hear from you. Get in touch with Viewfinder.