Politics / 12 August 2019, 09:00am / Mayibongwe Maqhina
Cape Town - The SAPS has insisted there is no crisis around the alleged shortage of rape kits at police stations across the country.
This comes amid the latest comments made by two parliamentary portfolio committees which revealed that there was a dire shortfall in the kits used to collect evidence of sexual assaults.
Police portfolio committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson called on the SAPS management to urgently ensure the availability of the rape kits at all police stations.
Her call was echoed by the chairperson of the women, youth and persons with disabilities portfolio committee Nonhlanhla Ncube-Ndaba who pointed out that the shortage of the kits would hamper the police’s ability to solve rape crimes.
However, national police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo on Sunday maintained that there was no shortage. “With the total number of evidence collection (rape) kits we have nationally, we can service police stations at an average of over 45 per kits stations.
“You may get a situation that a police station may not have any kits at all and this may be because a station would not have requisitioned them,” Naidoo said.
He added those stations which had run out were able to submit requests for kits at a neighbouring police station, its cluster office or request an investigator from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit to assist.
Suggestions around the shortage of DNA and rape kits are not new. Last year, former police minister Fikile Mbalula in a response in Parliament indicated that there was a shortage of 18637 crime kits in the country.
At the time, Naidoo blamed the problem on the lack of suppliers saying two of potential companies who were bidding for a tender were disqualified in the bidding process as they did not meet the specifications as outlined by the department.
The matter was compounded further by a third supplier that met the required specifications but was under criminal investigation.
Naidoo said the SAPS had embarked on a procurement process through a quotation basis and that they were redistributing the evidence collection kits to clusters and stations that were experiencing shortages.
He added that police were still using quotes to obtain the services pending awarding of a new tender.
“We are close to employing a company to provide the service. The use of the quotation system will not be for too long,” he said.
Current Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed in a parliamentary response that more than 9.5 million rounds of ammunition belonging to the police and up to 4357 firearms were reported as lost in the last six financial years.
A total of 550616 rounds of ammunition and 505 firearms were reported as lost in the 2018/19 financial year.
Cele also said 49 people were prosecuted for theft of police firearms and ammunition and 26 officers were charged with negligence or theft of firearms and ammunition.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the figures were totally unacceptable. “It is incomprehensible that more than 3million rounds of ammunition can go missing in a province during a single year and nobody knows how it happened.
“No wonder violent crime is out of control. The Police Service seems to be the biggest provider of illegal ammunition,” Groenewald said.
He said his party would request the chairperson of the portfolio committee for police to urgently discuss the matter and the relevant people must be held accountable.