Police need training on handling cases of abuse

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Police Minister Bheki Cele says there is a need to provide police with training to handle cases of abuse against women and children with sensitivity at the front desk to avoid case withdrawals, among other issues.

The Minister said this when police appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Police to give a report on crimes against women and children at the Old Assembly on Wednesday.

He said this during a month where women marched on the Union Buildings under the #TotalShutDown banner, which, after President Cyril Ramaphosa received their memorandum of demands, culminated into his Women’s Day announcement of a soon to be held gender summit aimed at addressing women’s issues.

Briefing members of Parliament, Cele said he has consulted the police top brass to look at ensuring that female officers are the ones tasked with taking statements from victims of abuse at the front desk.

“Sometimes police don’t understand how they have to treat [victims of abuse] and sometimes they make them double victims.

“They are a victim already. You go to the police station and they tell you to go [home] and negotiate. Usually, if you go and negotiate, you come back for the second time and the third time. Women don’t come back and by that time, they are dead (sic).

“These are the things that all of us in the system really need to understand. So the training part of it I will always accept, the figures I will always accept but the sensitivity of the work, hence I said to the management, why don’t we get more women to deal with these [cases] at the front desk.

“I [can] just imagine when you come tell a male [officer] that you have been raped. I think it traumatises you more when you have to tell [a man] that you were raped because if you don’t [report the rape] properly, we lose the case at a later stage,” he said.

Cele said, meanwhile, that progress was being made in tackling sexual offences cases against women and children, and that 600 perpetrators have, over the last financial year, been sentenced to life for sexual offences

Stats in relation to crimes against women, children 

Police briefed Members of Parliament on statistics in relation to crimes against women and children between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018.

The head of police crime research and statistics, Major General Norman Sekhukhune, said women murder cases were up by 11% in the period under review – from 2 639 in 2016/17 to 2 930 in 2017/18.

Total sexual offences decreased slightly by -0.6%, or by -217, from 36 948 to 36 731.

Sekhukhune said there was an increase in attempted murder (6.8%), assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm (2.5%), and common assault (3.9%).

He said under sexual offences, 30 981 women fell victim to rape in 2017/18 compared to 31 370 in 2016/17, which represents a drop of -1.2%.

Some 3 621 sexual offences cases were reported in the period under review, which represents an increase of 394 or 12.2%.

The rate of children who fell victim to murder, a statistic that pushed Committee Police Committee chairperson Francois Beukman to express his concern, was higher.

Some 985 children were killed in 2017/18 compared to the 839 that were killed in the previous year. This represents an increase of 17.4%.

Under rape, 18 336 children fell victim to rape compared to the 19 079 in the previous year – a decrease of 3.9%. – SAnews.gov.za