Police Crime Statistics: Minister Fritz concerned by SAPS rape data
Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, expressed concern over the continued disservice by SAPS to victims of gender-based violence. On an analysis of recently published police crime statistics for the period 1 March to 31 December 2020, it was revealed that 131 rapes were reported to the Mitchells Plain and Letegeur police stations.
Of the 131 reported cases, only 83 (or 63%) realized arrests and saw charges being laid. After three months since the reporting period has elapsed, it is not clear what has happened to the remaining 48 cases.
Of the 83 cases in which arrests were made, only 59 suspects are awaiting trial. Furthermore, only a single trial, out of the original 131 reported cases, has actually commenced. There has not been a single conviction.
Minister Fritz said, “We are failing our women. We are failing vulnerable members of our society. Imagine going through the absolute trauma of being raped, and then the ordeal of gathering up enough courage and reporting the matter to SAPS, only for the case to go nowhere. Out of 131 cases that were reported, only 1 case has reached trial. This is shocking.”
The Department of Community Safety participates in various initiatives which seek to eradicate the scourge of gender-based violence in the Western Cape. Amongst others, the departmental Court Watching Brief Unit has assigned an advocate to focus specifically on gender-based violence.
Minister Fritz, however, added: “As crucially important as social services and support are, we need a functional criminal justice system that truly serves the victims of violence and crime. It is unacceptable that victims of rape and gender based violence are subjected to secondary trauma of this kind because of a criminal justice system that is inadequately geared to ensuring that perpetrators are not only charged but convicted on the basis of reliable and credible investigated evidence.”
The Minister indicated that he will write to the Western Cape Police Ombudsman and ask them to conduct a systemic investigation into how rape cases are reported and dealt with at SAPS.
“We will then engage with SAPS to see how we, as the Provincial Government, can formally assist in trying to improve services to victims of gender-based violence, and rape specifically, as part of our overall prioritization of safety in the province”.