Action Society holds the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, directly ex officio responsible for every woman and child being raped in South Africa (SA). This comes after his pathetic response in parliament on 11 November 2020 stating people should stop overreacting to the distressing backlog of 117,000 DNA cases. For almost four weeks now we have been desperately waiting for minister Cele to make this miraculous plan public, while the future of our women and children are still at stake.
“As the leader of the South African Police Service (SAPS) he is liable for his malfunctioning department, starting with the shortage of DNA rape kits at police stations nationwide to the corruption with contracts resulting in this mess,” says Daleen Gouws, spokesperson of Action Society.
According to the Sunday Times, the Divisional commissioner Lt-Gen. Michael Mothlala said SAPS had allocated an additional R250m to its forensic services division to deal with procurement problems and the DNA exhibit backlogs.
Head of SAPS forensic science laboratories, Maj-Gen. Edward Ngokha said forensic science laboratory services faced insufficient funding and experienced instability at management level. Action Society wants to know if the additional funds allocated will resolve the procurement issues and if so how?
“Taking into consideration that 53,293 sexual offense cases were reported in 2019/2010 with a shocking low successful conviction rate of 7.8%, there is absolutely no time to postpone action. Sexual predators are roaming our streets without a conscience. So yes, we will stop overreacting once he starts acting on the problem with practical solutions,” Gouws said.
In an open letter, Action Society requested Cele to share his immediate plan of action.
“Maybe he has forgotten how crucial the first 48-hours after a sex crime are in gaining DNA evidence to build a strong case? His careless attitude falls badly on the ear of the devastated mother standing at a police station with her traumatized daughter who has been raped! Not to mention the troubled girl who is not even reporting it because she is not willing to expose herself to the miserable process where the sex offender’s rights outweigh hers.”
According to Cele no contracts for DNA rape kits were in place for 2017 and 2018 because bidders had not met the requirements. However a tender worth R500m was granted to Acino Forensic in August 2019 to restore this shortage.
“We would like to know what the current availability of rape kits at police stations nationwide is. Also how his department can oversee someone who is not doing his work for two consecutive years? Why not replace them with adequate persons who can do the job?”
Action Society suggests that the government assists communities to run self-management testing labs and use private detectives to fast-track findings and verify DNA information. Furthermore, the pressure group wants to emphasize the importance of implementing Sexual Offences Courts to accelerate convictions.
Especially young children cannot withstand the victimization of a dragging court case where the offender gets the sympathy. The whole process of reporting a sex crime in SA is demotivating: starting with the DNA kits and ending with no convictions.
“A rape victim deserves a warm-hearted welcome from a supportive and trained police officer when they report the monstrous crime. They want to clean their bodies from the evil deed as soon as possible, not hear they must come back another day or that their effort is useless due to corruption regarding contracts,” Gouws concludes.
ISSUED BY: Action Society
DATE: 7 December 2020
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Spokesperson: Action Society