South Africa: Parliament Calls South African Police Service to Be Sensitive When Dealing With Cases of Sexual Violence

press release

The Chairperson for the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Nonhlanhla Ncube-Ndaba, has called on the South African Police Service (Saps) to be more sensitive when dealing with rape victims.

Her comments come after she was alerted by a concerned community member of a case in which a three-year-old was allegedly raped by a man in his forties.

The mother of the child tried to report the case to two police stations without any success. The victim's mother was informed in the first police station in Harare, Cape Town, that the case was too sensitive to handle. At the second police station she was informed that the detective in charge of sexual violence cases was not available.

Ms Ncube-Ndaba said it cannot be right that victims of sexual violence are turned away when trying to report cases. "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 highest recording of contact crime. The 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," Ms Ncube-Ndaba said.

In an attempt to ensure that the perpetrator faces the full might of the law, Ms Ncube-Ndaba has intervened on behalf of the family. The perpetrator, who is known to the family, was arrested on the day the case was opened.

"We commend Saps for the arrest that have been made, but we call upon the justice system not to fail victims of sexual abuse," said Ms Ncube-Ndaba.

Recent crime statistics released by Saps show that sexual offences have increased by 4,6%. "Whilst we applaud the police for the action in this case, 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," said Ms Ncube Ndaba.

"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," she said.

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.

Issued by: Parliament of South Africa

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