Po­lice dis­miss re­ports of rape test kit short­age

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Gareth Wil­son wilsong@ti­soblack­star.co.za

East­ern Cape au­thor­i­ties on Fri­day dis­missed re­ports that there are no rape and DNA test kits avail­able in the prov­ince.

Con­fu­sion around the kits emerged when safety and li­ai­son MEC Weziwe Tikana – in a writ­ten re­sponse to DA MEC Bobby Steven­son – said there was no stock on hand for this fi­nan­cial year.

Po­lice dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing they were look­ing into how the in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion had been pro­vided to Tikana.

The news came just days after the lat­est crime sta­tis­tics showed that 1,049 rapes were re­ported from April 2017 to March 2018 in the Bay alone.

Dur­ing the same pe­riod, 6,821 rapes were re­ported across the prov­ince – 131 rapes a week in the prov­ince and 20 a week in the Bay.

In her re­sponse, Tikana said 41,545 rape kits had been used over the past fi­nan­cial year and 44,600 DNA kits – de­spite only 6,821 rapes and 805 sex­ual as­saults be­ing re­ported in the East­ern Cape.

She said the rape test kit short­age was a na­tional is­sue.

The short­age of DNA kits, ac­cord­ing to Tikana, was a pro­vin­cial is­sue.

The fig­ures were ver­i­fied by the pro­vin­cial head of fi­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion, known only as Brigadier Mjali.

Asked why it was ini­tially re­ported that there were no kits, Tikana’s spokesper­son Unathi Bin­qose said they were look­ing into it.

“A full ac­count of this un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent will be de­liv­ered in due time. What is com­fort­ing to us is that the kits are avail­able and cases have not been and will not be com­pro­mised as a re­sult,” he said.

Pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Liziwe Nt­shinga as­sured res­i­dents that they would not be de­nied jus­tice.

“While the South African Po­lice Ser­vice may from time to time ex­pe­ri­ence short­ages of the ap­pa­ra­tus, the vic­tims of crime have never gone with­out the nec­es­sary care and use of these kits,” she said.

Ear­lier this year it was re­ported that is­sues had been en­coun­tered when it came to pro- cure­ment pro­cesses for rape and DNA kits na­tion­ally.

Nt­shinga said: “My of­fice would like to re­as­sure the people of the East­ern Cape that while the process of pro­cure­ment is pur­sued, ser­vice de­liv­ery will not be com­pro­mised.”

The kits are largely used by the fam­ily vi­o­lence, child pro­tec­tion and sex­ual of­fence units, which spe­cialise in sex­ual abuse and rape in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Thuthuzela Care Cen­tre head ad­vo­cate Linda le Roux said it had no short­age.

Deputy di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tion ad­vo­cate Sel­van Gounden, who is based in Gra­ham­stown, had also not en­coun­tered a prob­lem.

“We deal with hun­dreds of rape cases across the prov­ince and have not yet en­coun­tered the prob­lem of a short­age. In any event, there are al­ter­na­tive ways and kits that can be used to take sam­ples,” he said.

Crim­i­nol­o­gist and for­mer de­tec­tive Pro­fes­sor Ru­dolph Zinn agreed, say­ing: “All it would mean is that de­tec­tives would have more pa­per­work to prove the chain of ev­i­dence is not bro­ken.”

The ten­der for the supply and de­liv­ery of col­lec­tion kits for a two-year pe­riod was can­celled by po­lice in June due to sup­plier is­sues.

“Two of the sup­pli­ers in the bid process were dis­qual­i­fied be­cause they could not meet the spec­i­fi­ca­tions as out­lined by the depart­ment. Dur­ing this process, the SAPS dis­cov­ered that the third sup­plier, who did meet the re­quired spec­i­fi­ca­tions, was un­der crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There­fore, the SAPS could not con­tinue with the award­ing of the ten­der,” po­lice spokesper­son Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said at the time.

“In the mean­time, to avoid a to­tal lack of these re­sources, SAPS has em­barked on a pro­cure­ment process through a quo­ta­tion ba­sis,” he said.

Cases have not been and will not be com­pro­mised Unathi Bin­qose SPOKESMAN FOR MEC WEZIWE TIKANA

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