The Star Late Edition
GAUTENG IS RAPE CAPITAL
Statistics paint picture of fight against GBV
DESPITE the slight drop in sexual offences reported from January to March, Gauteng still had the most reported sexual offences cases.
Police Minister Bheki Cele released the quarterly crime statistics from January to March 2021 and painted the picture for South Africa’s fight against crime and gender-based violence (GBV).
The minister revealed that during the fourth quarter of the 2020/21 financial year there was a decline in sexual offences and that 9 518 people were raped between January and March. There was a fall of about 387 cases, amounting to an almost 4% decrease compared to the previous reported period.
“The sexual violence meted against women in this country is simply shameful. Seemingly men and children are not spared,” Cele said.
The minister said the sexual offences figures were beginning to show that South Africa was stabilising in this area, however, the police could not drop their guards.
The statistics revealed that Gauteng had the most reported sexual assaults and rapes over the three-month period with 477 sexual assault cases reported, followed by Western Cape with 433 reported cases.
There were 2 031 reported rape cases in Gauteng, 60 attempted sexual assault cases and 57 contact sexual offence cases. “A sample of 6 893 of the rape incidents revealed that 4 130 of such incidents took place at the home of the victim or the home of the alleged rapist,” Cele said.
The Eastern Cape’s Lusikisiki police station recorded the highest incidents of rape, overtaking the Inanda station, which has held the number one position for some years.
“Gender-based violence remains a priority crime for us in the SAPS. When it comes to GBV, there is no room for complacency. Those ‘sleeping on the job’ must get their act together or ship out,” the minister said.
Cele said a DNA recovery plan was in place to clear the “severe” DNA backlogs experienced at SAPS Forensic Science laboratories. He added that 42% of dockets for crimes committed against women that had been outstanding for over a year were finalised.
“The nation is assured that we are working around the clock to clear the backlog and GBV cases are being prioritised,” Cele said. He added that the police were also hiring more forensic analysts to work through the backlog in the labs.
The minister said there was a commitment to tighten the police contract management system and ensure contracts were renewed on time.
“To ensure in future we avoid a repeat of these bottlenecks, an early warning system to detect any anomalies is being developed,” Cele said.
DA spokesperson for police Andrew Whitfield said the slight decline in the reported rapes demonstrated the urgency with which South Africa’s DNA backlog crisis has to be addressed.
“This clearly demonstrates the urgency with which South Africa’s DNA backlog crisis has to be addressed. Continued delays in DNA testing will delay justice for the thousands victims of violent crimes,” he said.
Whitfield added that this eroded the principle of consequences for criminal behaviour and created an enabling environment for violent criminals to thrive.
Amnesty International South Africa said despite the 4% decrease in the crime statistics around rape, South Africa still had an alarmingly high rate of violence against women.
“While we welcome the decrease in the number of reported cases, a lot more still has to be done in order to ensure that South Africa is a safe place for all who live in it,” executive director of Amnesty International South Africa, Shenilla Mohamed said.
Mohamed added that the criminal justice system needed to play its part in ensuring repercussions for those who commit these crimes.
“It is also important to continuously note that these numbers only reflect the cases that have been reported to the police, and one could surmise that there are more victims and survivors than the official figures, given the under-reporting of rape in the country,” Mohamed added.