15/01/2012 Police minister Nathi Mthethwa during a media briefing on festive season crime stats at SAPS Tshane Trainning Academy. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Mogomotsi Magome

PRETORIA: Despite wide condemnation and public awareness campaigns about sexual offences, 1 357 women were raped during the festive season, with 82 incidents of attempted rape also reported.

This is according to the festive season crime statistics released by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa yesterday, which also showed a decrease in the number of robberies and cash-in-transit heists.

Gender activist Nomboniso Gasa claimed that the real number of rapes during the festive season might be higher because most rape cases were not reported to the police.

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega said the number was too high and that police were doing all in their power to address the situation.

“We should really work hard to have that number reduced. We should also ensure that the victims of this crime receive our attention and that we get better conviction rates.

“It’s an area that we shall remain keenly focused on because we cannot be known as a country that has the highest incidence in that area.”

Phiyega said they also had to do more in how women reporting rape were treated and how their cases were handled.

“You don’t just need an ordinary social worker, you need one who has a different kind of orientation and training.

“You need a social worker who also has detective capacity and who must be able to do forensic type of work, while also offering counselling”.

According to Gasa, a researcher and analyst on gender issues, the fact that the police did not have a dedicated, specialised and sophisticated division for sexual offences was a serious challenge in the fight against the scourge.

“We have seen many rape cases being thrown out of court simply because the investigations were not properly conducted, to the extent that even statements were not taken correctly.

“This is a serious challenge and it will require training and serious improvement in the criminal justice system on how we deal with rapes,” said Gasa.