Cape Town – Western Cape police commissioner Yolisa Matakata was confronted with horror stories of GBV while launching the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign in Delft yesterday.
One survivor shared how her abusive husband allegedly bribed police officers not to take action against him for breaching a protection order.
The 36-year-old mother said she had been enduring abuse from her husband for years and eventually decided to take the brave step of lodging a complaint against him with police.
“I recently received a protection order and he was not supposed to come back home.
“But he returned home and I called the police because I thought he was going to be arrested,” she said.
However, on arrival police officers allegedly did not act decisively; they engaged with her husband and received a bribe from him before leaving without arresting him.
Another survivor, a mother of five, said she was sexually assaulted by someone she knew after being lured by the promise of a job.
“The economic circumstances in the community, as single women, forces us to reach for any job and sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we are taken advantage of.
’’I went to the place the man said I must go to only to find out there was no job. I was sexually assaulted by him and another man.
’’I managed to escape and went home and told my mother what transpired,” she said.
The woman said three police officers responded to her complaint at her residence, and one of them convinced her not to open a case, allegedly saying it would be her word against those of the two perpetrators and the case would stand up in court.
“I suffered secondary victimisation through the way they treated me, because they judged me by the way I looked, and assumed I was just a drug addict. Maybe that’s why they decided not to take my case seriously,” she said.
Matakata said they decided to launch the campaign in Delft because there were high incidences of rape and other contact crimes there.
“We are taking special attention as police in terms of the station, and this is not a new problem. It is really a problem in terms of crime and calling for the communities to also assist us in fighting crime.
’’We are aware that there are many contributing factors, and the community is growing.
“When we receive complaints, I task officials to investigate the poor service delivery so that we correct where we are not delivering, as expected by the Constitution,” said Matakata.
“Steps are taken against members who commit misconduct. All these issues raised by the victims will receive the necessary attention from the cluster commander, and at provincial level we will follow them up to ensure justice is served.
“It is not easy to have community trust when some of our members are not helping our communities but this is something we are continuously working on.”
Head of the Blue Downs police cluster Vincent Beaton said: “I am totally embarrassed that this all happened under my nose.
’’Today I promise and pledge to personally see that all these victims’ concerns are attended to.
“We will ensure all those members implicated are exposed and action is taken against them. It is unacceptable that a police officer can attend to a complaint and convince the victim not to open a case.”
Zinzi Fuku, a social worker from The Trauma Centre, said: “We don’t just provide trauma counselling but provide legal support to the victims of crime.
’’This is because we found that there was a lack of assistance under the SAPS in providing a quality service for victims.”