SAPS fails to comply with Domestic Violence Act
The Department of Community Safety (DoCS) has concluded the Census Project, monitoring the level of compliance of 150 police stations in the province with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) 116 of 1998 and the SAPS National Instruction 7/1999. The Census was monitored over a six-month period, between July and December 2017, revealing that the Western Cape SAPS remains non-compliant with the DVA and that more volunteers are required for victim support rooms.
The most reported forms of domestic violence over the six-month period included physical abuse (46%) and emotional, verbal and psychological abuse (29%). Of the total 34 209 incidents reported in 2018/19, the majority were reported in Mitchells Plain (3155 cases), Delft (2071 cases), Harare (1716) and Knysna (1620). Please see infographic attached.
Minister Fritz said, “The DVA places several obligations on SAPS and other state departments regarding its implementation. DoCS is mandated to monitor and evaluate the SAPS’ compliance with the DVA, and make recommendations to SAPS with regards to non-compliance with the DVA. I will work closely with the newly appointed Provincial Commissioner, Yolisa Matakata, to address the findings of the Census Project.”
Functioning of Victim Support Rooms at the Top 20 Stations
Minister Fritz said, “An important component in addressing GBV are victim support rooms. These rooms provide victims with much needed psycho-social support during periods of trauma. The results of the Census Project show that victim support rooms are undermined by a lack of volunteers. I therefore call on all station commanders to work more closely with their local Community Policing Forums, Victim Support Units and Neighbourhood Watch structures to increase the number of volunteers at their stations. Additionally, I call on members of the community to assist their local victim support rooms by volunteering.”
“It is unacceptable that Khayelitsha and Atlantis police stations only have 1 trained volunteer despite having had 1105 and 1272 incidents respectively reported in 2018/19. Delft and Lingelethu West stations only have 4 trained volunteers despite these stations having the second and third highest number of incidents. Beaufort West station has no volunteers,” said Minister Fritz.
Minister Fritz said, “An emerging trend from the analysis was that Belhar and Steenberg stations had incomplete records of victims’ details in the domestic violence register. This makes it impossible to conduct follow ups with victims on services rendered by the SAPS as not all domestic violence incidents were registered and criminal cases opened. There are also challenges in terms of SAPS corrective actions taken for some stations in responding to recommendations made by DoCS in ensuring compliance with the DVA.”
Further findings revealed that:
- 67% of VISPOL and 74% of Detectives at the top 20 stations have not undergone the five-day DVA training course (it was noted that domestic violence training was included in the basic training curriculum in July 2004);
- In 2018/19, only 12 DVA courses were provided for the station level personnel of the Western Cape by the Office of the Provincial Commissioner;
- A lack of alignment between the DVA register and other DVA records, including the Occurrence Book and pocket books of members at certain stations;
- Protection orders are not always served within the targeted 48 hours and copies are not filed correctly as they are not readily available at certain stations; and
- A lack of trained volunteers in victim friendly rooms at some stations and a lack of safe house facilities within the precincts of many stations including Khayelitsha and Mfuleni.
Protection orders served in cases of domestic violence
Minister Fritz said, “The Census analysed the serving of protection orders in 2018. I commend Delft, Khayelitsha, Beaufort West, Manenberg and Paarl East stations for having for having served all protection orders. Conversely, Atlantis had an extremely low rate of serving protection orders at 38%. Nyanga and Grassy Park had no proper record keeping on the serving of protection orders. This means that known perpetrators of Gender Based Violence (GBV) are free to roam the streets, directly threatening the lives and wellbeing of their chosen victims.”
Court Watching Brief Findings on Gender based violence cases monitored between April 2018 to September 2019
Minister Fritz said, “Of the total 159 GBV-related cases monitored by the Court Watching Brief Unit between April 2018 and September 2019: investigations were incomplete (86), dockets did not arrive at court (54), forensic reports were outstanding (15), the accused was not brought to court within 48 hours of arrest (2) and the witness was not at court (2). These factors contribute to cases being struck of the roll and are a complete miscarriage of justice, infringing on the constitutional rights of the victim.”
Under the DA-led Western Cape Government, the Department of Community Safety remains committed to using each tool at its disposal to implement the DVA and safeguard women against GBV and domestic violence.
Attention broadcasters: please see English audio link attached.