GBV victims say they’re failed by justice system at Delft meeting with WC top cop
Cape Town – Victims of gender-based violence (GBV) on Wednesday, painted a grim picture of the criminal justice system’s efforts to curb the abuse of women and children, saying the system had failed them.
The victims alleged the perpetrators, if arrested, were set free by the police and the courts, causing them secondary trauma when they encountered them in the community.
GBV victims posed questions at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign at the Rent Office/Black Box Theatre in Delft under the auspices of Provincial Police Commissioner Yolisa Matakata, the National Prosecuting Authority, Department of Justice and NGOs Rape Crisis and the Trauma Centre for Victim Empowerment.
One of the victims, a 15-year-old girl from Delft, said she was raped earlier this year and the perpetrator was known to the community. She said the case was opened but police did nothing about it.
She said she felt let down by the criminal justice system, especially as she encountered the alleged perpetrator – who lives within the community – from time to time.
Another victim, a 36-year-old woman, alleged she was bullied and abused by her husband.
After she obtained a protection order against him, he did not obey the order. She said she went to the police station and was chased out.
“The system failed me and I urge the police management to do better, she said.”
A social worker from the Trauma Centre, Zinzi Fuku said the centre offered counselling and other forms of support to victims and their families on an ongoing basis and as part of their oversight role, they maintained pressure on the police to ensure progress on criminal cases opened.
However, Fuku said one of the challenges was the legal side.
Matakata said their role as management was to make sure there was justice for all the victims, and she promised police would follow up on the complaints.
Matakata said it was no accident they had launched the GBV programme in Delft, as it rated number one in the country in terms of GBV.
Institute for Security Studies, Justice and Violence Prevention Project researcher Lauren Tracey-Temba said a functioning criminal justice system could play an important role in ensuring that victims of GBV were able to access justice.
Tracey-Temba said in the past few months the police, prosecution services and courts had been put under unprecedented strain. “This has exacerbated the challenges already faced by victims of GBV in accessing justice.”