Police not taking domestic violence seriously, says LHR

SAPS members. Picture supplied.

SAPS members. Picture supplied.

LHR’s Bornman said they are shocked by the failure to properly discipline noncompliant officers.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) has expressed serious concern about the ability of the Civilian Secretariat for Police to monitor the police for compliance with the Domestic Violence Act.

Sanja Bornman of LHR’s Gender Equality Programme said the police service and secretariat compliance reports presented in the portfolio committee on police in parliament on Wednesday did not bear out Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s statement that domestic violence was a police priority.

The SAPS report for the period April 2015-September 2015 indicated that only 219 incidents of noncompliance were identified countrywide, with zero incidents in Mpumalanga.

Of these, 128 cases were still under investigation and 131 were so-called “not serious” cases of noncompliance only subject to “remedial steps”. Not a single case was considered serious with a guilty finding.

Noncompliance numbers rose to 641 incidents for the period October 2015-March 2016, with as little as three cases in Mpumalanga, and nine in the North West. Of these, 357 were “non-serious” and subject to “remedial steps”, and 190 cases were still under investigation. Again, not a single case was considered serious.

Bornman said it appeared that the Secretariat could only visit 546 police stations between April 2015 and March 2016, with supposed full police compliance with the Domestic Violence Act in Gauteng and Mpumalanga, and only one case of noncompliance in KwaZulu-Natal but found none of the 246 stations visited between April and September 2016 were fully compliant.

“The portfolio committee rightly questioned these highly unlikely numbers, and the Secretariat had to agree that their sampling methodology is problematic.

“The reports we saw today are totally unacceptable. These numbers can’t be right. The same problems with the sampling methodology and suspiciously low levels noncompliance are evident year on year, without change.

“We have serious questions about the ability of the Secretariat to monitor SAPS compliance at the provincial level, and the validity of the data points presented. Provinces have a lot of explaining to do.

“We are also shocked by what appears to be utter failure to properly discipline noncompliant officers, especially those who are perpetrators of domestic violence themselves,” Bornman said.

She pointed out that police failure to assist complainants in terms of the Domestic Violence Act was misconduct and a disciplinable offence.

“Domestic violence is extremely prevalent in South Africa, and if left to escalate can result in death.

“Recent examples include Nosipho Mandleleni, who was sjambokked to death by her boyfriend, former ANCYL region leader Patrick Wisani, and Karabo Mokoena who was in an abusive relationship with Sandile Mantsoe,” she added.

today in print