Joint Statement: Assault increases on women and children alarming
The increase in assault/grievous bodily harm (GBH) cases against women and children as reflected in the second quarter (July – September 2022) crime statistics for the Western Cape, is alarming and cause for great concern.
The crime statistics show that for women, GBH cases increased by 399 or 23,1% when compared to the same period in the previous year. In addition to this, 5 more women, or 4,4% were also murdered. For children, during the same comparative period, GBH increased by 31 cases or 9.6%. Murder and attempted murder for children decreased by 5,2% and 28,9% respectively, while attempted murder for women decreased by 21,1%.
Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen says, “it is an absolute disgrace that our women and children are being harmed in this manner and that the numbers continue to increase. I am deeply angered by this. The 16 days of activism provides an important opportunity to raise much more awareness and action against the abuse of women and children. As a society, we should be ashamed that we are allowing it to continue. Most of these crimes occur within the premises of the victim or the perpetrator, and in most cases, the offender and victim are known to each other. The onus is on us to immediately reverse this traumatic reality.”
Minister Reagen Allen added: “We will continue using our Court Watching Briefs programme, to ensure that where GBH cases against women and children that might have been struck off the role due to police inefficiencies, are placed back in court, so that perpetrators can be held accountable and ultimately go to jail. All of us, also have a responsibility to report any SAPS officer that might have turned someone away who experienced sexual violence, when they wanted to report the matter.”
Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said: “In the Western Cape Government we believe in a 365-day campaign against sexual and gender-based violence. The increase in assault cases is indicative of a national government failing in its duties to protecting its most vulnerable citizens. During the Western Cape’s first Provincial Summit on GBV in October, we heard the plight of victims who shared their frustrations with the justice and police systems. We heard about victims waiting in long queues at police stations before receiving assistance. We also heard of how victims who report cases to the police are often dismissed when they smell of alcohol. We are deeply concerned that domestic violence is not being taken as a serious offense, and most importantly, detectives are overloaded with cases. There were also testimonies of courts not being client friendly. Victims need time to be prepared for the court process but say sometimes the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) only engages the client on the morning of the case. The low conviction rate is also a major challenge, and sentencing does not deter abusers from committing these types of crimes again. The time it takes to conclude court cases is more often than not too long.”
“This leads to a distrust by victims in our policing and justice systems. That is why the Western Cape Department of Social Development has stepped in and is helping and supporting victims of abuse and violence in whatever manner it can, through its Victim Empowerment Programme. In the 2021/2022 financial year, more than 21 000 GBV victims accessed psychosocial support through this programme, much more than we’d originally targeted – this is indicative of the significant need. The programme currently funds 26 shelters in the Western Cape. The funding model for the shelters has improved significantly over the past 5 years, as the unit cost (cost per bed per month) has increased by 42%,” added Minister Fernandez.
“I urge all loved ones, friends, neighbours, community members and society at large to not be silent on this matter. We should under no circumstances be enablers of GBH or any other crime against our women and children, and instead ensure our women and children are safe. Let us start eradicating the abuse and assault of our women and children from our society,” concluded Minister Reagen Allen.
Spokesperson for Minister Reagen Allen
082 721 3362 (m)
Media Liaison Officer
Office of MEC Sharna Fernandez
Department of Social Development
Tel: 084 775 2975