Violence against women must be confronted head on

Friday, November 17, 2023

The scourge of violence against women and children in South Africa must be confronted head on equally by law enforcement, government and society.

This is according to Police Minister, General Bheki Cele, who released the crime statistics for the second quarter of 2023/2024 on Friday.

The report showed that contact sexual offences declined by 35.9%, with 10 516 rape cases reported and investigated by police in July to September 2023.

While the statistics showed that less women and children were killed in South Africa, between July to September 2023 (decreasing by 10.9% and 7.0% respectively), Cele said the crime figures show that far too many women and children in the country are not safe around people that they know and trust, and at times those that they love and in the places where they are supposed to be safe.

According to the figures, 4 726 rape incidents took place at either the home of the rape victim, or the home of the perpetrator which are known to the victim, such as a family member, a friend or a neighbour.

The report showed that between July and September 2023, 1 514 incidents of attempted murder, involving female victims were reported. Furthermore, females were victims in 14 401 assault grievous bodily harm (GBH) incidents reported to the police during the reporting period.

Children have not been spared from the brutal attacks and abuse, with 293 children killed between July to September 2023. In the same period, 361 incidents of attempted murder and 1 820 of assault GBH were perpetrated against children.

Cele said it was clear that the attacks and violence meted on women, children, the elderly and the most vulnerable in this country remained shameful.

“The Police Ministry has noted with extreme concern the recent brutal stabbing of a Western Cape University female student, in broad daylight. The SAPS continues to upscale its responses to this form of crimes through increased operations to trace GBV perpetrators, arrest serial offenders as well as serial rapists.

“Our docket analysis shows that the arrest of serial sexual offenders is reducing incidents of sexual offences. The SAPS continues to collaborate with social partners to eradicate the scourge of GBVF and educate communities on the matter,” Cele said.

He said the Ministry is motivated by the police continued successes in bringing to book Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) perpetrators.

Among the success include the recent identification and takedown of 27 sexual predators in the country, and the recent sentencing of Mario Giusti to 6 400 years in jail, after being found guilty of more than 1 000 charges of child pornography.

As part of some of the crime prevention programs carried out by the police service, Cele said, dialogues in various communities targeting men, who are largely GBV perpetrators, are taking place.

He said the Ministry was motivated by the continued availability of evidence collection kits or so called rape kits; as well as the improvement of support services at stations for survivors of sexual violence.

“The historic DNA backlog which was standing at over 240 000 two years ago has now been cleared. SAPS forensic laboratories across the country continue to work optimally and relevant contracts crucial for the functioning of labs are in place. The consumables essential for the processing of samples continue to be procured.

“These policy interventions are coupled with functioning of GBV desks at police stations countrywide. These desks are staffed with officers trained in GBVF-related courses as well as victim empowerment, domestic violence and sexual offences related programs,” Cele said. –