The civil rights organisation Action Society has criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reaction to a gender-based violence (GBV) question raised in Parliament on Thursday, saying his feedback was inadequate and it betrays victims of GBV, like Felicia Mndlovu (17) and Chantelle Makwena (5).
Ramaphosa informed parliament that only 3,534 of the 2020/21 backlogged GBV cases have been finalised since the inception of the new Forensic Exhibit Management (FEM) system in April.
Approximately 200,000 DNA samples have been backlogged since June 2020, when Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) was forced to shut down the Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) system. During a parliamentary portfolio meeting concerning the DNA backlog in March 2021, it was revealed that, despite getting their budget approved by the National Treasury, the SAPS failed to sign a new agreement or make any payments to FDA. The police’s firearm permit system (FPS), which manages 180,000 handguns and 350,000 semi-automatic and shotguns was shut down at the same time.
“Due to government’s incompetence the DNA backlog increased by an average of 15% per month between November 2020 and March 2021. Despite millions of crime victims waiting for justice to prevail, some people are waiting for DNA results before they can bury loved ones,” Dr Rineé Pretorius, spokesperson for Action Society commented.
The president’s flagship initiatives like the Thuthuzela Care Centres, the SAPS’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit and the Sexual Offences Court continuously disappoint victims of GBV.
“How can justice prevail when a criminal’s rights outweigh heavier those of the victim? This past week the body of Yolandi Botes (35) was found cut into pieces in the Vaal river after she disappeared at OR Tambo Airport in April. She was her on her way home to her children but never arrived. Does this brutal and senseless murder reflect our president’s national strategic plan against GBV and femicide?” asks Pretorius.
Action Society demands honesty and transparency from government with regards to the processing of DNA samples and the GBV prevention strategy. The lobby group further requests that the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill and Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill ̶ which was introduced in August 2020 and will improve the handling of GBV cases ̶ be approved and implemented as soon as possible.
“Action Society suggests that court procedures related to the prosecution of people accused of sexual offenses should be dealt with separately from the current over-burdened court rolls. These special sexual offenses courts will fast-track hearings and have an immense impact on the current conviction rate of 7.8%,” concludes Pretorius.
ISSUED BY: Action Society
DATE: 8 May 2021
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Dr. Rineé Pretorius
Spokesperson: Action Society
Cell: 083 507 7782
PR: Action Society
Cell: 081 233 8351