Bheki Cele said gender-based violence was a social construct and not a specific crime. File Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi African News Agency (ANA)
Bheki Cele said gender-based violence was a social construct and not a specific crime. File Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele says there is no specific crime category for gender-based violence and femicide in the SAPS

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Nov 25, 2021

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DURBAN - Police Minister Bheki Cele said the South African Police Service (SAPS) did not have a specific crime category for gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide.

Cele was responding to a parliamentary written question by the DA’s Bridget Masango, who had asked Cele whether SAPS had determined a specific crime category for GBV and femicide.

The response from Cele came when many were preparing for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence which runs from November 25 to December 10.

It was also a few days after Cele presented the crime statistics from July 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021, where he revealed that 9 556 people were raped and that there was a 634-case increase compared to the previous reporting period.

In the response signed by the SAPS National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole and Cele, the minister said GBV was a social construct and not a specific crime. Data on gender-based related crimes, which was available from the system, are those crimes where victims are usually women. Those are domestic violence-related crimes and sexual offences.

“There is a limitation to the GBV data, which is available on the SAPS information systems, in accordance with the definition for GBV and Femicide, provided by the National Strategic Plan (NSP), on GBV and Femicide (NSP GBVF),” Cele said.

He said in that regard, GBV was defined as “The general term, used to capture violence that occurs, as a result of normative role expectations, associated with the gender associated with the sex, assigned to a person at birth… as well as the unequal power relations between the genders. GBV includes the physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse or threats of abuse.”

Cele further explained that the SAPS Crime Administration System and Integrated Case Docket Management System have functionality that enables domestic violence-related cases to be captured on the system. Sexual offences are also captured in terms of the various crime codes relating to the offences.

“In order to determine a GBV motive or that gender dynamic contribution to a crime, one currently would have to go into individual docket analysis. In the medium-to-long term, the SAPS will seek to institutionalise a ’peer agreed’ definition on GBV that will enable the capturing and availability of a broader cache of GBV. This may involve exploring the feasibility of re-engineering the systems to enable the capturing of as comprehensive as possible, the broader spectrum of GBV-related data. This will also require piloting and testing any measures, which are introduced,” Cele explained.

He said a meeting was established, comprising the relevant SAPS divisions and components, with the aim of engaging and having a common understanding of GBV, definition limitations and possibilities for SAPS data.

Cele said the following issues would be explored in detail by the team:

  • Definitional elements from the NSP definition;
  • Development of a questionnaire on the system;
  • A gap analysis to be made in the system functionality, for GBV data for necessary enhancement; and
  • To obtain stakeholder buy-in.

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