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Johannesburg - When a woman or man is raped in Gauteng, chances of the perpetrator being found guilty and sent to jail are extremely slim.
This is according to police statistics provided by MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko in response to questions posed by DA MPL Patricia Mokgohlwa in the legislature.
According to the reply, only 8.3 percent of rape cases resulted in a successful conviction last year. There were 23 086 rapes reported in Gauteng, a big increase from the 9 052 cases in 2010/11 and 8 152 in 2011/12.
Of the total amount, 55.6 percent were referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution. But 35.6 percent were referred back to the police for further investigation. Of the cases that went on, 38.4 percent were thrown out of court because of an incomplete investigation.
Mokgohlwa said these statistics showed that 23 rape cases a day were being reported to police in Gauteng, but she said this did not include thousands more where women were too afraid to speak up or had no faith in police to do their job.
“The low conviction rate is not simply because of the difficulties associated with prosecuting perpetrators of rape, as the figures show that shoddy and incomplete police work often fails rape survivors,” Mokgohlwa said.
“Rape across the province and country has quite rightly been described as a state of emergency and a war on women’s bodies.”
Carrie Shelver, from the One in Nine Campaign, said it was very hard to completely trust police statistics as there were so many variables when it came to rape, and police statistics were “plagued by so many scandals that it’s hard to take them seriously”.
She said that when looking at research done independently of the state, some figures emerged, such as stats which showed that only 4.7 percent of cases nationwide where adult victims reported the rape resulted in conviction.
“These stats show that there is a problem with police investigation. We need better trained police and (efficient) forensic laboratories,” Shelver said.
She said that when a case was referred back for more police investigation, it meant the victim faced huge upheaval and had to face the trauma of being interviewed again.
Shelver said she was currently dealing with a case where a woman was raped in Soweto last year and police had still not taken her torn underwear in as evidence. “In this case it proves the attack was violent, while the alleged perpetrator is claiming the sex was consensual,” she said.
“The less evidence that is taken, the greater the burden on the victim to prove she was raped,” said Shelver. “It means she faces questions during cross-examination she might not have to face if the evidence was collected.”
Shelver referred to studies which showed that in half the reported rape cases, more than half the police didn’t bother going to the rape scene.