Pretoria police have stepped up operations against sexual offenders following the release of the 2017 crime statistics, which show an increase in rape and sexual assault cases in the city.
According to the crime statistics revealed by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula last week, there was a significant increase in reported cases of rape across parts of Pretoria. These include Kameeldrift, where rape has increased by 233.3%, Lyttelton by 108.3% and Garsfontein by 100%.
Sexual assault, which includes inappropriate touching or a sexual life-threatening attack, has also spiked across the city, increasing by 266.7% in Pretoria Moot, 250% in Mamelodi and 114.3% in Pretoria North.
But this could mean victims trust police more due to improved awareness of gender-based violence.
According to LifeLine Pretoria, a confidential crisis intervention organisation that works with victims of sexual offences, society has started to hold police accountable for doing their jobs. “The police stations have stepped up their game and are more aware,” said director Sonya Rayne.
“[Victims] also know where to turn for help and where to find organisations. Police are now a lot more educated about the crime. “In some cases, rape victims go to the clinic first, and that is when police stations are contacted to open a case.”
Sexual assaults on children have also increased in Pretoria, but more victims are willing to speak out about their ordeals, said Unchain Our Children trauma counsellor Rozanne Ashworth.
“Despite the stigma, intimidation and secondary victimisation, there has been willingness to speak out. In our organisation, we help victims with going to the police and reporting the crime.
“That is where secondary victimisation comes in – when victims try to give details to the police but are not taken seriously, or judged for what they are wearing and turned away.”
Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the police’s success in ensuring convictions and long sentences may have motivated more victims to come forward.
“The increase in reported sexual offenses may also be viewed as progress, in that the community is more concerned about crimes affecting women and children,” he added.