The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says South Africa’s Witness Protection Unit is among the best in the world, despite allegations that the unit is compromised and insensitive to psychological trauma.
Following the killing of an elderly couple in Belhar two weeks ago, MEC for Community Safety in the Western Cape Dan Plato released a statement claiming that the elderly man had been part of a jeopardised witness protection programme.
Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery denied that Plato's allegations had any basis.
I think these claims are unfortunate because we want to encourage people to enter the witness protection unit if they need to. The perpetual comments that the programme is failing does not help.— John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
According to Jeffery, no witnesses have been killed or harmed while part of the Witness Protection Programme in the past 15 years and the unit cannot be held responsible for witnesses that walk off.
The current Office for Witness Protection falls under the NPA and witnesses enter it voluntarily.
EWN investigator Monique Mortlock, says that the programme sees a number of "walkoffs" who decide to leave after committing to testify or provide information in a criminal case.
Several prosecutors who spoke to Mortlock advise that there is not enough psychological debriefing of the witnesses.
Listen to the full conversation from CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:
This article first appeared on 702 : SA's witness protection unit under scrutiny