Police are failing rape victims says Cape MEC Albert Fritz
Cape Town - Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz expressed concern over the alleged disservice by the police to victims of gender-based violence (GBV).
Fritz said crime statistics for the period March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, revealed that 131 rapes were reported to the Mitchells Plain and Lentegeur police stations.
Fritz said of the 131 reported cases, only 83 (or 63%) realised arrests and saw charges being laid. He said after three months since the reporting period had elapsed, it was not clear what had happened to the remaining 48 cases.
He said of the 83 cases in which arrests were made, only 59 suspects were awaiting trial, and only a single trial, out of the original 131 reported cases, has actually begun.
Fritz said there has not been a single conviction. “We are failing our women. We are failing vulnerable members of our society. Out of 131 cases that were reported, only one case has reached trial. This is shocking.”
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said rape investigations in their nature are complex and most cases take time to be ready for trial, depending on the circumstances.
Human rights activist Zintle Khobeni, chairperson of the organisation The Great People of SA , said it was an open secret that the police system was in a state of disarray, often failing victims of GBV and femicide.
"If there continue to be no sustainable strategies in dealing with the way police handle GBV cases then we are most likely to see cases rising with little being done to hold perpetrators accountable," she said.
Anti-GBV group Ilitha Labantu's spokesperson, Siyabulela Monakali, said they were greatly concerned by the existing mechanisms to address the GBV and rape.
He said many cases were dropped as a result of poor handling by the police, and that brought into question if the police were adequately trained to effectively deal with sensitive GBV and rape cases.