Police Minister Bheki Cele under fire for rape kits remark
Cape Town - Civil rights organisation Action Society said Police Minister Bheki Cele was directly responsible for every woman and child being raped in South Africa.
This comes after what the organisation said was a pathetic response in Parliament on November 11 by the minister, that people should stop overreacting to the distressing backlog of 117 000 DNA cases.
Action Society spokesperson Daleen Gouws said while the organisation had been desperately waiting for the minister to make the “miraculous” plan public, the future of women and children was still at stake.
“As the leader of the SA Police Service (SAPS), he is liable for his malfunctioning department, from the shortage of DNA rape kits at police stations nationwide to the corruption with contracts.
"Taking into consideration that 53 293 sexual offence cases were reported in 2019/2010 with a shockingly low successful conviction rate of 7.8%, there is absolutely no time to postpone action.
"Sexual predators are roaming our streets without a conscience. So yes, we will stop overreacting once he starts acting on the problem with a practical solution,” Gouws said.
In an open letter to Cele, the minister was requested to share his immediate plan of action.
“Maybe he has forgotten how crucial the first 48-hours after a sex crime is in gaining DNA evidence to build a strong case? His careless attitude falls badly on the ear of the devastated mother standing at a police station with her traumatised daughter who has been raped!
"Not to mention the troubled girl who is not even reporting it because she is not willing to expose herself to the miserable process where the sex offender’s rights outweigh hers,” she said.
The Great People of South Africa chairwoman Zintle Khobeni said the rape conviction rate would continue to remain low as court cases were often struck off court roll because of the unavailability of essential kits.
“As an organisation, we demand that the president release the 1.6bn that he promised organisations dealing with these crimes of GBV/sexual violence, so that we have enough capacity to do our job, and that includes being visible in each and every SAPS area, conducting due diligence to see if these inefficient police are actually doing their job and living up to the oath they took.
“With enough funds, we can effectively delegate our paralegals to all hot spots of sexual violence and SAPS stations known for inefficiency,” she said.
Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba said there had been a three-year contract in place to ensure availability of DNA rape kits to all police stations.