Police Minister Bheki Cele says plans to increase Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units are underway as police announced an increase in reported sexual offences cases.
The Minister said this in a media briefing shortly after releasing the annual crime statistics in Parliament on Thursday.
"Plans to increase the number of Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units countrywide and to recruit and train more women officers to work within this specialised environment are underway.
"To further fight the scourge of violence against women, we have heeded President Ramaphosa's call to reopen the investigation of all cold cases of gender-based crimes in the country," he said.
This as Major General Norman Sekhukhune told members of the Portfolio Committee on Police that police recorded 52 420 sexual offences between April 2018 and March 2019, up by 2 312 when compared to the previous financial year.
The Minister said FCS units continue to be one of the best within the South African Police Service (SAPS), with the fundamental responsibility to protect and serve women children and vulnerable groups.
"The FCS has 185 units to deal with gender-based violence including sexual offences. In the 2018/19 financial year, the FCS recorded 658 life sentences out of 504 registered cases. It is through the highly specialised investigative work that 387 suspects were sentenced to 20 years and above," he said.
Sexual offences against children on the rise
Briefing MPs earlier, Sekhukhune said out of the 52 420 sexual offences cases, 41 583 were cases of rape, 7 437 were reports of sexual assault. He also said that police recorded 2 146 cases of attempted sexual offences cases.
"Sexual offences against children have also increased by 899," he said.
According to the crime statistics, which have been published on the SA Police Service website, a provincial analysis shows that sexual offences have increased in most provinces, while two provinces reported a drop in the reported cases in this category.
Mpumalanga recorded an increase of 8.5% to 3 470, while there was a 7.9% increase in cases reported in the Eastern Cape.
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal both recorded increases of 6.3%, while the Free State, Limpopo and Northern Cape recorded increases in sexual offences cases of 5.3%, 5.1% and 2.6% respectively.
The Western Cape and the North West provinces recorded decreases in the number of sexual offences cases, by 0.5% and 3.8% respectively.
The top five police stations where sexual offences were reported are Inanda, Umlazi, Thohoyandou, Lusikisiki and Nyanga.