National Police Day: ‘Police fail gender-based violence victims’
By Sisonke Mlamla 40m ago
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Cape Town – Amid the celebrations marking National Police Day yesterday, the National Shelter Movement of SA (NSMSA) called on police management to address the challenges faced by victims of domestic and intimate partner violence when they approached police for help.
NSMSA project co-ordinator Mariam Mangera said despite the country finally having a national strategic plan to counter gender-based violence (GBV), problems at police stations persisted.
"Since taking its first call, nearly two months ago, the NSMSA’s shelter helpline has had numerous reports regarding issues of poor service delivery by the police," said Mangera.
She said the problems were largely the result of what appeared to be police officers passing the buck, rather than effectively dealing with domestic violence cases that were brought to their attention.
She said the police had to follow certain protocols when cases of GBV were reported to them.
"Some police stations are equipped with a family violence, child protection, and sexual offences (FCS) unit, with trained forensic social workers responding to these cases, which helps to facilitate cases better.
“However, many police stations do not have an FCS unit, and they are using this as an excuse to turn victims away," she said.
Human rights activist Zintle Khobeni, chairperson of the organisation The Great People of SA , said between July 1 and September 31, 2020, more than 90 cases involving domestic violence, sexual violence and femicide were struck off court rolls due to police inefficiency.
Khobeni said failure by the police to collect evidence and take correct statements from the victims was what led to those cases being struck off court rolls.
"The police, including Minister Bheki Cele, have failed, and continue to fail, victims of gender-based violence, sexual violence," said Khobeni.
Police spokesperson Brenda Muridili said the movement should provide clarity on where police were failing in their duty, present case numbers of where GBV victims were not assisted correctly, and name the police stations where poor service was given.
Muridili said it was not possible for the police to respond to blanket allegations. "We need the instances where police failed to act so we can investigate and take steps."
The head of the NSMSA, Dr Zubeda Dangor, said the movement had recently reached out to Cele, to request an urgent meeting.
"This request has been acknowledged by the minster and we hope for a meaningful discussion within the next two weeks," Dangor said.
Dangor said while FCS units were mandated to ensure that GBV victims were treated with the utmost care to avoid secondary victimisation, it was essential that all police and related staff were capable of dealing with such cases, at least up to the point where they could be referred to the nearest FCS unit.
Anti-GBV group Ilitha Labantu's spokesperson, Siyabulela Monakali said the police had become their partners when it came to addressing the GBV scourge.