Police dismiss reports of rape test kit shortage
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