South Africa: Parliament Blasts Poor Handling of Toddler Rape Case

17 September 2019

The Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities has called out the poor handling of a reported rape case of a three-year-old girl in the Western Cape.

It is alleged that when the girl's mother went to report the rape at the first police station in Harare, Cape Town, she was told that the case was too sensitive to handle. At the second police station, she was allegedly informed that the detective in charge of sexual violence cases was not available.

"This will lead to perpetrators escaping sanction for the crimes they have committed. It is secondary victimisation. There is a dedicated Nyanga Cluster Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) to deal specifically with such crimes. How is it that a victim of sexual offence was turned away?

"Nyanga falls within the top four police stations with the highest recording of contact crime. Crime statistics also show that all contact crimes against children have increased, including sexual offences. So it cannot be that when a mother with a child comes to a police station to report a case of sexual assault, that she is not assisted immediately," said the committee's chairperson, Nonhlanhla Ncube-Ndaba.

Ncube-Ndaba has intervened on behalf of the family in an attempt to ensure that the perpetrator -- a man in his 40s -- faces the full might of the law. The perpetrator, who is known to the family, was arrested on the day the case was opened.

"We commend the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the arrest but we call upon the justice system not to fail victims of sexual abuse.

"It is important for law enforcement agencies to treat all cases of gender-based violence with the urgency required, as the recent crime stats indicate that the country is under serious attack," Ncube-Ndaba said.

Recent crime statistics released by SAPS show that sexual offences have increased by 4.6%.

"Child abuse and rape have no place in our society. We call upon men, women and children to stand up and make their voices heard," said Ncube-Ndaba.

In an effort to provide effective oversight on issues of gender-based violence, this week the committee will be briefed by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on progress with the development of the National Strategic Plan on gender-based violence and femicide, as well as the establishment of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence.

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