Campaign for GBV victims to get access to alleged perpetrators’ bail conditions
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Cape Town - Survivors of violent crimes, in particular sexual assault, have a right to obtain information related to the bail conditions of alleged perpetrators, but this is not readily made accessible to them.
This was the focus of a webinar hosted by Ilitha Labantu with sister organisations during the launch of its bail conditions campaign on Tuesday.
Ilitha Labantu senior legal adviser Natsai Chakapfava said the campaign was launched to educate women in particular because they are often victims of violent crimes, that a copy of the perpetrators’ bail conditions can be obtained by them.
“The minimum standards of services for victims of crime set by the Department of Justice advocates that victims should be informed of the outcomes of bail proceedings, any special bail conditions, and to have the implications of such bail conditions explained to them,” said Chakapfava.
“Despite legislation in place, there exists major challenges in the current bail system,” said Chakapfava.
“These include: courts granting bail to perpetrators of violent crimes even after previous convictions and outstanding charges were disclosed by the perpetrator; perpetrators of schedule 6 offences (murder, rape and robbery) are released into communities where the crime was committed; investigating officers and prosecutors are not forthcoming with information and fail to provide a copy of the bail conditions to victims; and bail conditions are not stringent enough with courts not considering community outrage when granting bail.”
As an activist on the ground, Philisa Abafazi Bethu founder and director Lucinda Evans said: “There’s no feedback, if any, to the clients and most victims of gender-based violence, of rape, they open up their front door the next day and the perpetrator is out,” said Evans.
“When victims inquire about their perpetrators’ bail conditions, they’re told the information cannot be disclosed as it is a legal document,” said Evans.
Mitchells Plain cluster chief prosecutor Lindsey Louther said the court can impose any bail conditions as long as it is in the interest of justice.
”And that is a very wide all-inclusive, all-embracing interpretation of what the court can do. It’s exceptionally important that bail conditions are reported to the complainant, witnesses, to victims of the crime in a specific case, and as such the prosecution does a lot to see to it that that happens.“