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More than 100 cops face GBV charges

 . . . Free State among the hot spots

A total of 139 SAPS members from 13 police stations across the country have had cases relating to gender-based violence (GBV) opened against them, parliament heard this week.

Five of the stations are among the 30 GBV hot spots identified in the country, including the Free State.

This was revealed the minister of police, Bheki Cele, in a reply to a question by the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s public service and administration spokesperson, Michele Clarke MP.

The cases include rape, statutory rape, murder, domestic violence, attempted murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, contempt of court, malicious damage to property, intimidation and pointing a firearm, noted Cele.

Of concern to the DA is whether the perpetrators have been charged for their offences, still on active duty, or they have been dismissed.

Clarke said they would be submitting supplementary questions to the minister seeking greater clarity.

Cele cited Umlazi and Ntuzuma in KwaZulu-Natal, Bloemspruit in the Free State, and Mitchells Plain and Gugulethu in the Western Cape as part of the 30 GBV hot spots in the country in September.

With Parliament due to host public hearings on three bills relating to gender-based violence this week, Clarke said, “It is important that Cele takes a public stand against GBV by drawing the line against the harbouring of perpetrators within SAPS ranks’’.

“Violence against women is a national crisis and we cannot allow their re-victimisation at police stations manned by perpetrators of GBV. The fight against GBV requires a police service that women can trust and rely on during their time of need,” he pointed out.

“The DA will continue to hold the minister accountable to his avowed commitment to address the GBV crisis and ensure that SAPS meets the objectives set out in its GBV action plan.’’

Police reports indicate that gender-based violence surged during the national lockdown period, with victims forced to remain at home with their perpetrators.

According to Cele, one week into lockdown more than 87,000 cases were reported across the country. 

“South African men are greatly violent,” says Nokhetho Mhlanga, an independent researcher at Plus94, a non-governmental organisation.

“To contextualise the implications of lockdown on GBV: the violators who are often perpetrating at work, schools or in public spaces are now confined to their homes, so it is not unfounded that the violence will now move to a domestic setting,” she noted referring to the national lockdown period.

“In addition, substance abuse, financial distress etc will agitate abusers and as a coping mechanism, they will take out their frustrations on those in their home,” she added. 

South Africa has established 92 dedicated Sexual Offences Courts since 2013, with a further 11 to be opened this financial year, to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offences are not subject to further trauma.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last year announced that R1.1 billion would be redirected to be used in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.

He also invited the private sector to join the fight by contributing to a gender-based violence and femicide fund, adding part of this contribution would be used to increase the number of Thuthuzela Centres – one-stop facilities for rape survivors – from 54 to 100 by the year 2025.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi