The Independent Policing Oversight Authority currently is investigating 190 cases in which police are suspected to have been involved in the death of civilians. Since its inception, the Authority has investigated 292 such cases.
To date, the authority has achieved six court convictions; another 30 cases are at various stages of the court process.
To realise a solid case and get a conviction, the investigation team must first establish and assign culpability of suspect officers.
The team must also ensure that all investigation files meet and surpass stringent internal evidential thresholds. These include subjecting the completed investigation file to at least three internal quality mechanism checks to ensure it is airtight.
That means that even when the investigators have finished, we look at the file thoroughly, scrutinising it for loopholes and ensuring it reaches evidential thresholds.
If we feel that file is not solid enough, we send those fellows back to the field to fill those gaps and loopholes. That goes on internally within the investigations department twice before we forward the file to the legal directorate, which again critically looks at those files.
Only at this point, when it has passed these stages of review does the file go to external review at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Usually, the DPP also has a queue of files he is reviewing. All files go to him. We have no influence over how fast the DPP looks at the files.
Then again in the court process, we have no control over the priority that is assigned to the cases. Also generally gathering the evidence, all that goes into the investigation processes, even for the police themselves, they usually take their own process. And you cannot fast-track this. Otherwise, the investigations file will be weak.
The other reason why the process of investigation would take longer is the challenge of understaffing. We have just shy of 60 investigators and we also cannot overburden them.
If we overload them with so many investigations, then we may not realise quality in terms of findings. So we must achieve a fine balance between cases and the resources we have.