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NPA vs Police: War erupts over collapsed cases

Police and NPA are pointing fingers at each other after the Meyiwa and Morris investigations collapsed.

SAPS vs NPA. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba says he wants to meet with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to get an explanation about why charges against the sole suspect in the Taegrin Morris case was dropped.

The NPA withdrew charges against Tamsanqa Twala last week after he was arrested for the murder of the four-year-old boy in Reiger Park in July.

Taegrin was dragged to his death by his mother's hijacked vehicle.

A prosecutor in the Boksburg Magistrates court told the media police didn't do a great job in their investigation, but Mothiba says the prosecutor should go to Reiger Park himself and explain to the community why the charges were dropped.

"That prosecutor is not talking the truth. I would have wanted him here, so that he can tell this community exactly why he withdrew the case. I'm very much upset with that prosecutor. We are taking it further with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in this province."

The NPA's Nathi Mncube says the provincial DPP also wants to meet with Mothiba.

"The actual fact is that the DPP is waiting for him. The police must get the evidence. They had more than enough time and they still do. They can always bring him back. We will definitely deal with the matter once it's ready. At this point, it's not ready."

The NPA says police succumb to the pressure of having to arrest someone, because of how big and highly publicised a criminal case is, but they will not allow themselves to fall victim to the same pressure.

The NPA says if the case against Twala was not dropped, due to a lack of evidence, it could have amounted to a "malicious prosecution".

Mncube maintains the identity parade that was held was not reliable and could not have led to a successful prosecution.

But the police's Neville Malila hit back saying, "It was presented to the prosecution authority and they decided we can place the matter on the court role."

MEYIWA CASE

This is the second case to make headlines in which criminal charges against the only accused have been dropped.

Just three days before Twala was released, Zamokuhle Mbatha was allowed to go free after charges against him, for the murder of soccer star Senzo Meyiwa, were provisionally withdrawn.

Mncube says in both cases they were not to blame.

"On two occasions we have been blamed for something that we did not have control over. We can only apply the law as it is. We do not succumb to pressure. We do not prosecute people where we think there is not sufficient evidence. The police must get the evidence. The NPA is not at fault."

PUBLIC SPAT AFFECTS CITIZENS

The Institute for Security Studies says when police and the NPA attack each other in public, it's regular South Africans who suffer the most.

The institute's Gareth Newham says public spats between two of the most crucial organisations in the criminal justice system does little more than undermine public confidence in the country's ability to fight crime.

"When your most senior officials in both organisations want to go public over a sitting down, that shows a problem with leadership."

He says the National Development Plan addresses these problems and must be implemented faster.

"When the criminal justice system breaks down, it doesn't work properly. Then it's the people who suffer the most."

He added that the pressure on police and the NPA to explain the Morris case, was probably compounded by the collapse of the Meyiwa murder case.

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