South Africa: Appointment of Division Head of Forensics in SAPS Critical in Conviction of Gender-Based Violence Perpetrators

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The Portfolio Committee on Police welcomes the South African Police Service's (Saps') Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Action Plan, which is aimed at addressing the scourge of GBV and femicide in South Africa. The committee was unanimous in its agreement that the intention of a collaborative effort within the security cluster is an important pillar in dealing with cases of GBV and ensuring increased prosecution.

Related to this, the committee welcomes the information that the National Commissioner of Saps has appointed the Divisional Commissioner: Forensic Services, subject to the approval of the Minister. The appointment of the Divisional Commissioner will hopefully ensure that the backlogs at forensic laboratories related to GBV, particularly sexual assault cases, are cleared.

"The committee urges the Minister to approve the appointment of the Division Head to ensure that the fight against GBV is backed by strong forensic evidence that will ensure prosecution," said Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the Chairperson of the Committee. The committee is of the view that the appointment of the Divisional Commissioner strengthens a seemingly weak point of the chain in the fight against GBV."

Similarly, the committee welcomes the drive to strengthen communication and cooperation between the Saps and the National Prosecutions Authority to ensure a proactive case docket management system. The committee has called for continuous monitoring and evaluation of this critical element of the action plan.

The committee has called for societal support of the action plan through the formation of strategic partnerships aimed at encouraging early interventions. Neighbourly reporting and diversification of reporting platforms is encouraged and will go a long way in ensuring the success of partnerships in dealing with GBV.

The standard implementation of guidelines for the policing of GBV is also a strategic intervention that must be enforced and monitored. The committee has called on the leadership of the Saps to ensure that all police stations adhere to approved guidelines that were distributed to provinces in May 2020.

Regarding the first quarter crime statistics, the Portfolio Committee welcomes the decision by Cabinet to release statistics quarterly, which will ensure that worrying trends are addressed early on the reporting year.

The committee has requested the police to take stock of causal factors that led to a reduction in various reporting categories and look at ways of integrating those interventions, even after the end of the lockdown period.

The committee remains optimistic that the fight against crime can only be successful if there is efficient collaboration between the Saps and the community, strengthening of investigative capabilities of the police and strengthening of the security value chain to ensure effective prosecution.

More From: Parliament of South Africa

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