Cape Town - In an effort to avoid secondary victimisation of gender-based violence (GBV) victims at police stations, 120 GBV desks will be manned by officers trained to provide specialised assistance.
This was announced by provincial police commissioner Thembisile Patekile at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children in Mfuleni yesterday.
The launch came against the backdrop of the release of the second quarter crime statistics, which showed that 9556 people were raped between July and September.
A sample of 6 144 rape cases revealed that 3951 of these incidents took place at the home of the victim or the perpetrator, while liquor and drugs played a role in 1383 of these cases.
Patekile said the police had moved from awareness campaigns to accounting to communities on police responses to GBV.
“The starting point is our front-line service, where we normally get these complaints that victims have been turned away, or a case has not been handled correctly. We have to account for that, especially the front line where the first contact is made.
“We have created these GBV desks in the province and we are also looking at training dedicated members at each shift who will be responsible for, among other things, when a case is reported, and ensure that necessary assistance is offered,” he said.
Patekile stressed the importance of officers’ training, partnerships with NGOs and capacitation of youth in fighting the problem. He said more than 20 police officers had been dismissed from April for dishonesty and other crimes.
The Greatest People of South Africa chairperson Zintle Khobeni said there seemed to be no sense of urgency in the police to reform the manner in which victims and survivors were received.
“Up to 97% of those accused are not convicted in court, partly because of problems in the forensic data system. Many of them are not disciplined by the SAPS either, the data shows, and remain on duty,” Khobeni said.
Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said a lot needed to be done to capacitate police when dealing with GBV cases.
“We have been working extensively with various police clusters in the Western Cape by providing GBV training to capacitate front-line officers, community police forums, neighbourhood watches and other social protection units with the skills and knowledge to adequately handle cases with the sensitivity and urgency they required,” he said.