The criminal justice system is failing victims of gender-based violence.
Right now, the conviction rate for crimes of reported rape is 8.6% due to a high number of cases dropping out of the criminal justice system, and most reported cases never being prosecuted.
The quality of investigations is crucial in securing positive convictions, and this responsibility sits with the South African Police Service (SAPS). Yet, too often, basic mistakes such as missing information from dockets, inadequate collection of evidence and missing signatures from complainant statements lead to the decision not to prosecute a case.
Further, due to decades of inadequate training, resources and accountability, the criminal justice system is largely ineffective, inefficient and insensitive.
As the leader of the SAPS, Minister Bheki Cele has the opportunity to change this by prioritising:
Capacity-building: By providing appropriate, mandatory, initial, and continuous training for all relevant professionals, including police and investigating officers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials who work with victims and survivors of gender-based violence. The training should include legal obligations (including the rights of non-nationals, explaining the rights to the victim, giving them the option to speak with a female officer, and taking them to a private room to give their statement); prevention and detection of cases; gender equality; rape myths; and harmful cultural and societal attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes.
Accountability: Setting performance targets that include ensuring all investigations are completed in an efficient, effective, comprehensive and sensitive manner.
Resource allocation: Officers and stations must have appropriate and adequate resources to investigate cases, including timely access to vehicles, appropriate testing kits and technology, victim-friendly rooms.
Efficiency: The quality of investigations must be improved, as well as the supervision of investigating officers.
Join us in calling on the South African Police Service to CARE.