More than 25 600 cases of domestic violence were recorded at police stations visited by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service over a six-month period ending in March 2023.
This is according to a report by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service, which is mandated to monitor and evaluate SAPS compliance with the Domestic Violence Act, tabled in Parliament.
In the report, covering the period between October 2022 and March 2023, the secretariat detailed its findings for stations across the country to assess compliance and implementation of the Domestic Violence Act at a station level, with a focus on the top 30 police stations for GBV-related crimes.
The visits covered a greater number of stations in Gauteng, while the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape covered fewer.
The report notes that Gauteng and the Western Cape consistently had the highest domestic violence rate.
Acting Secretary for the Police Service, Takalani Ramaru, said of the 25 671 cases recorded by the SAPS, Gauteng reported 19 236, followed by the Western Cape with 2 611 and the Free State, 2 344. Limpopo recorded 898 cases, KwaZulu-Natal 258, North West 222, the Eastern Cape 67 and Mpumalanga 29. The Northern Cape recorded six cases.
“Based on the number of cases reported, an inference can be drawn that an average of 3 206 domestic violence cases were reported in Gauteng alone on a monthly basis during this six month period,” Ramaru said.
“Out of the 25 671 reported cases at the 455 police stations, 3 075 (12%) of the cases are closed as undetected, which are cases that could not be resolved due to suspects not found.
“This is of concern as domestic violence is a crime that occurs within a domestic relationship and the perpetrator is always known to the victim, meaning ‘undetected’ is not the most suitable reason for closing domestic violence cases.”
Ramaru said the withdrawal of cases was another challenge.
“Victims withdraw charges for multiple reasons, including financial dependence on the perpetrator.”
The report revealed a further 262 cases (1%) were closed as “unfounded”.
“These are false allegations made by victims who have no interest in pursuing charges after the lie has served its purpose. However, these cases should be looked into in order to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to close them as unfounded.”
The report showed there were 6 297 withdrawn domestic violence cases, 3 075 undetected and 262 unfounded.
There were 13 333 arrests made and 1 059 convictions secured.
In his report, Ramaru said they found 51 complaints of reported non-compliance with the Domestic Violence Act and national instruction by the police officers. The complaints were reported in the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and the Western Cape.
The Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape submitted zero.
“The highest number of non-compliance cases were reported in the Western Cape with 40 members being implicated, followed by the Free State and Limpopo with three members each. KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng had two members each while North West reported one.”
The complaints related to administrative and operational matters and included failure to complete the domestic violence forms, arrest a perpetrator, serve a protection order, or confiscate firearms from a perpetrator; rendering unsatisfactory service; and failing to do proper record keeping.
Ramaru said the SAPS initiated disciplinary hearings against 21 members and 20 were given verbal warning.
“This is a positive step and an indication that the SAPS management takes non-compliance seriously.”
The report found 186 police officers were offenders of domestic violence during the period. The Western Cape led the pack with 77 members, followed by Gauteng with 49, the Free State 23, Limpopo 10, the Eastern Cape nine, KwaZulu-Natal seven, the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga four each, and North West three.
Ramaru said 97% of the stations visited had female officers on all shifts to assist victims of domestic violence.