Cape Town - Civil society organisations have lambasted Police Minister Bheki Cele for his denial that there was a shortage of evidence collection kits, also known as “rape kits”, at police stations last year.
While presenting the quarter three crime statistics, Cele said a three-year contract entered into with a supplier in 2019 to provide these essential kits was still in place, and the availability of the kits in all provinces was confirmed weekly basis, and replenishment was done at a station’s request.
“A three -year contract entered into with a supplier in 2019 to provide these essential kits, is still in place. The availability of the rape kits at all provinces is confirmed on a weekly basis and replenishment is done as per the stations request.”
In August last year, SA Women Fight Back called 35 police stations in the Western Cape and found that only seven of them had enough rape kits, and a number of them did not know what a rape kit was. There were also a number of stations that did not answer.
The Great People of South Africa chairperson Zintle Khobeni said rape kits were not easily accessible, particularly in poor communities, and remained unavailable regardless of the amount government funding.
“The Minister of Police and the entire department surely cannot expect us to agree to the statement that there is no shortage of rape kits, not after there have been several reports by the very same department, the Commissioner for Gender Equality, and reports by civil society organisations stating otherwise.
“The department has a responsibility to provide accurate information on this pertinent issue, thus ensuring that these essential kits are available to all SAPS stations. This is while many victims of sexual violence continue to have their cases struck off court roll due to police inefficiency, such as not being able to have collected sufficient evidence, which would ensure that perpetrators do not get off free,” Khobeni said.
Sibongile Mthembu from Call to Action Collective said there was shortage of rape kits last year, and they were bought in December and January based on a budget that was reprioritised.
Mthembu said it took time for smaller police stations to receive the kits.
“When we did our investigations in February to March, we could confirm that most did have, even if it was under five, because we were told the storage of such was an issue,” she said.
Action Society spokesperson Daleen Gouws said a report by the Western Cape community safety department provided the facts on 23 police stations in the province.
“Minister Cele can deny all he wants - the facts were clear. Some stations reported that the shortage of stock over the past two years includes not only buccal sample kits, but also other DNA collections kits such as Adult Sexual Kits, Pediatric Kits and Sexual Assault Kits. Of the stations assessed, 43.5% did not have any kits available in their store. Additionally, 13% of stations had less than five kits available regarding the collection of buccal samples,” she said.