Women and children’s activist Lucinda Evans said: “Until SAPS get their house in order, we are going to sit with situations where women are re-victimised.” Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Women and children’s activist Lucinda Evans said: “Until SAPS get their house in order, we are going to sit with situations where women are re-victimised.” Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Victims left traumatised as SAPS fail to handle domestic violence cases tactfully

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Jan 14, 2020

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Cape Town - The police are failing victims of domestic violence, say activists who have confirmed the findings of a provincial government survey which found that police officers were not complying with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA).

The Department of Community Safety had monitored the level of compliance at 150 police stations in the province over a six-month period, between July and December, 2017.

According to the survey, “The most reported forms of domestic violence over the six-month period included physical abuse (46%) and emotional, verbal and psychological abuse (29%). Of the total, 34209 incidents reported in 2018/19, the majority were reported in Mitchells Plain (3155 cases), Delft (2071 cases), Harare (1716) and Knysna (1620).”

The report also found that 67% of visible policing and 74% of detectives at the top 20 stations have not undergone the five-day DVA training course (it was noted that domestic violence training had been included in the basic training curriculum since July 2004)

Lavender Hill women and children’s activist Lucinda Evans said: “The station commanders should be charged for failing to comply with the national Instruction that mandate all stations to have fully functional victim empowerment programme (VEP) rooms. How do they fill in their monthly scores with compliance?

“At some police stations, when victims went for support, there was nothing. Until SAPS get their house in order, we are going to sit with situations where women are re-victimised.”

Manenberg resident and community activist Roegshanda Pascoe said, “The reality is that the police in our stations don’t know the policy.

“They don’t know how to act or to treat victims. In areas such as Manenberg where the police fear being ambushed, when they do respond to a DVA incident they tend to call the victims to come out onto the streets. This is traumatic for victims but this is how it is for our community."

The census began in 2017. It was later updated with more information which examined 20 stations over a 12-month period between April 2018 and March last year.

The census take place every five years; the next is scheduled for 2023.


Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said: “An emerging trend from the analysis was that Belhar and Steenberg stations had incomplete records of victims details in the domestic violence register.

"This makes it impossible to conduct follow-ups with victims on services rendered by the SAPS as not all domestic violence incidents are registered and criminal cases opened. There are also challenges in terms of SAPS corrective actions taken for some stations in responding to recommendations made by DoCS in ensuring compliance with the DVA.

“It is unacceptable that Khayelitsha and Atlantis police stations only have one trained volunteer despite having had 1105 and 1272 incidents respectively reported in 2018/19. Delft and Lingelethu West stations only have four trained volunteers despite these stations having the second and third-highest number of incidents. Beaufort West station has no volunteers.” 

The survey also found: “A lack of alignment between the DVA register and other DVA records, including the Occurrence Book and pocket books of members at certain stations; protection orders are not always served within the targeted 48 hours and copies are not filed correctly as they are not readily available at certain stations; and a lack of trained volunteers in victim-friendly rooms at some stations as well as a lack of safe house facilities within the precincts of many stations.”

SAPS had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

@MwangiGithahu

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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