After hours bail applications and the availability of detectives at police stations

February 1st, 2024

The Criminal Law Committee of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is interested in knowing if the following remains a nationwide concern: Do legal practitioners find it challenging to reach detectives outside regular hours to initiate the processing of a case for a suspect’s release on bail, especially for non-violent offenses such as drunk driving, common assault, or possession of narcotics etcetera?

The Committee observes that this problem has persisted for several years, with challenges in reaching an available detective, particularly on Saturdays or during emergencies. The Committee emphasises the importance of being able to contact the head of detectives at a police station, who should, in turn, facilitate communication with the on-duty detectives. Experienced criminal defence practitioners often have a network of contacts, but individuals without such contacts may find it difficult to reach anyone at the local level. This impacts both practitioners and the public and it also affects victim of crime who want to follow up with cases that they have lodged.

The Committee has previously brought up the matter with the police legal services, but to no effect.

The Committee seeks the input of De Rebus readers on whether they should persist in their efforts to bring attention to this issue through various platforms. They are considering whether the Committee should communicate with the legal services of the South African Police Service, expressing that practitioners have not received satisfaction in their ability to reach a person at a police station knowledgeable about the whereabouts of on-duty detectives, at any time, including after hours.

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This article was first published in De Rebus in 2024 (Jan/Feb) DR 10.