Cops pledge action on domestic abuse

Cape Town - Police officers at 16 stations across the province with the highest reported cases of domestic violence have signed a declaration committing to eradicate abuse against women and children.

To mark the start of the police’s 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children campaign on Sunday, members of the 16 precincts lit candles and signed a declaration vowing to reduce cases of domestic abuse.

A volunteer from one of the 16 police stations, which have pledged to eradicate abuse against women and children, lights a candle at the launch. Picture: Jason Boud. Credit: jason boud

Provincial police top brass and representatives of NGOs and Community Policing Forum members from the areas attended the launch in Bellville.

The identified areas include Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Delft, Kleinvlei, Grassy Park, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Conville near George, Worcester, Milnerton, Harare in Khayelitsha, Atlantis, Mfuleni and Manenberg.

In 2011 56 000 incidents of domestic violence were reported in the Western Cape, according to deputy provincial commissioner Major-General Peter Jacobs. The 16 precincts contribute to 25 percent of all domestic abuse cases in the province.

Jacobs, who heads the provincial campaign, said the 16 stations had decided to take their campaign a step further - turning the spotlight on abuse for the next 100 days.

Officers at those stations will undergo training to increase service delivery, revisit reported domestic abuse incidents recorded in the last year and speak to victims and perpetrators. On December 10 each of the 16 stations will deliver a progress report.

Western Cape police commissioner Major-General Arno Lamoer has instructed staff to make the campaign different this year. He said that for the last 13 years not much had changed when it came to domestic violence.

Lamoer challenged all men “who are macho enough” to speak out against domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse survivor Caroline Davids was left unconscious in hospital for three days in 2010 after she was attacked by her estranged husband.

Davids, who today calls herself an “empowered woman”, encouraged people who are in abusive relationships to “speak out”.

“The system didn’t fail me, it was just slow... and for so many other women out there the system is slow.”

Lungiswa Memela, of the Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women, said the associated social ills could not be solved by police and NGOs alone. She said other role players such as parents, teachers and those in the justice system needed to step up.