“The Commission for Gender Equality’s report on the police’s readiness and handling of gender-based violence and femicide reflects exactly what Action Society faces on the ground,” said Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society. “It is a shocking stain on the already tainted reputation of the government and the minister of police.”
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) inaugural Biannual SAPS Report indicated that only 17 of the 81 targets (over 22 departments) set in the government’s Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) have been reached to date.
The deputy chairperson of the CGE, Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, highlighted that various obstacles are standing in the way of preventing and prosecuting gender-based crime.
1. Unacceptable police to population numbers
According to the report, South African police stations must serve populations far higher than the acceptable world standard of 200 persons per police officer:
• Free State – 23 423 persons per station;
• Gauteng – 109 790 per station;
• North West – 49 398 per station;
• KwaZulu-Natal – 62 500 per station;
• Limpopo – 55 769 per station;
• Mpumalanga – 48 888 per station;
• Northern Cape – 14 285 per station;
• Western Cape – 46 357 per station;
• Eastern Cape – 33 588 per station.
2. Shortage of resources, particularly vehicles, phones and computers
The general need for essential resources is widely documented, with police officers resorting to buying their own equipment in many cases. GBV coordinators, in some cases, don’t have dedicated spaces or the equipment needed to do their work.
3. Delays in the DNA system
Forensic and DNA evidence take between five months and three years, leading to high withdrawals and acquittals in most cases.
4. Insufficient training for officials and first respondents to GBV
The report shows evidence of a variation in training between stations in provinces and between provinces. In Delft, 80% of the staff is untrained in properly handling GBV cases; in Nelspruit, 81% is incapable.
5. The poor condition of police stations and VFRs
Many stations do not have victim-friendly rooms, which contributes to secondary trauma.
6. Shortage, and in many cases, no availability of rape kits
7. Contributing factors of massive withdrawals of GBV cases
Family interference, the length of cases to a successful prosecution, and the overall handling of gender-based crimes. The average conviction rate for GBV cases stands at around 5,3%.
Dr Moleko also presented their suggested solutions in the report and emphasised that we do not need new strategies but should implement the existing plans to care for victims of GBVF properly. She said the CGE would work with the SAPS to use evidence-based strategies to act preventatively.
“We want to commend the CGE on the report and invaluable research done,” said Cameron. “We agree with Dr Moleko that one rape is one too many and that something in our national fabric needs to change. But, we should, at the same time, continue to keep the government, the SAPS and the minister of police accountable.”
Any concerned South Africans can join Action Society in getting rid of the incapable minister of police, Bheki Cele, by signing this petition.
Find the full report here: https://actionsociety.co.za/commission-for-gender-equality-biannual-saps-report/