By Thakira Desai
The murder accused in the case of 6-year-old Stacey Adams has confessed to her murder. This according to the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of police, Zakhele Mbele. DA members visited the Mitchells Plain Police Station on Thursday morning to speak to the acting cluster commander, Major General Johan Brandt, and investigators who have been assigned the case. The visit forms part of the DA’s initiative aimed at addressing violence against women and children, which the party has undertaken this year.
The remains of the little girl were discovered in a shallow grave on Sunday, next to her mother’s wendy house in Eastridge, Mitchells Plain. Her mother’s boyfriend, Christopher Lee Brown was yesterday charged for her murder.
State prosecutor, Juwaya Kleinsmith, yesterday confirmed that Brown had pending cases of murder and assault with grievous bodily harm. He is expected to apply for bail on July 24, 2018.
With unconfirmed reports on whether Brown had signed a confession earlier this week making the rounds in the media, Mbele confirmed that the accused had confessed to the crime.
“There was a confession, because the accused in his confession gave information about what tool he used to dig the shallow grave and gave other surrounding information. That will form part of the bail hearing, as well as the ultimate case docket when it goes to court for prosecution.” – DA shadow minister of police, Zakhele Mbele.
Mbele said that the collection of statements had “proceeded well” and that police have been able to piece together the case.
He added that investigators are awaiting forensic analysis from the police’s forensics science laboratories to add evidence to the case.
“[The process] is hampered, because of the constraints, bottlenecks and the under resourcing in the forensic environment; we know that there have been problem in the past with backlogs and with inadequate, outdated and broken equipment.
“We found as the DA, from a reply to a parliamentary question, that there are shortages of DNA collection kits in stations and at FCS units around the country,” he noted.
With speculation mounting that Stacey was raped prior to being murdered, he said that while the autopsy has been completed, police cannot release the findings, since it forms part of the bail hearing scheduled for July.
The police service is severely under-resourced and understaffed
Commenting on concerns that a member of the public, rather than a police official, recovered the weapon suspected to have been used in the murder, Mbele said police are severely understaffed and under-resourced. Mbele further noted that the issue of safety requires a multipronged approach, which he said is inclusive of community participation.
The Mitchell’s Plain acting cluster commander, Major General Brandt, is also the full-time cluster commander for Khayelitsha and oversees Wynberg, a fact Mbele said reflects the excessive workload of officers.
“They have made it quite clear that the context of broken families, substance abuse and general social dysfunction does make for a big work load and burden on the police. We [therefore] need a stronger push involving all stakeholders for strengthened crime prevention,” Mbele explained.
Mbele said the destruction of the crime scene by frustrated residents this week spoke to the inadequate police resources and staffing.
“If the home and the wendy house needed to be kept vacant, then it is up to everyone who is directly in that space to assist and to work with the police until they have completed their crime scene evidence collection in order to give the case the best chance of achieving a prosecution in the courts.”
He said that the police service requires a localisation of resources and management in order that stations and clusters are empowered and have the capacity to undertake their own local safety partnerships around crime prevention.
“Although work of the police in this particular case must be commended, [since] there was rapid response when Stacey was reported missing and her body was found shortly after the activation of the community and the police, it does reflect the problem we face at station level where there is understaffing, under-equipping and under-resourcing.”
Mbele asserted that the current issues faced within the police service are as result of a legacy of years of mismanagement.
“The top management must get on the ball and start doing things effectively and being responsive to the needs of stations and clusters. That’s where the localisation of resources would be a big improvement.”