Contrary to previous reports, cases of gender-based violence did not rise by 500% during the lockdown.
This is according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, who headed up a media briefing at the Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) headquarters on Friday, to update the country on the levels of compliance and adherence to the Covid-19 lockdown regulations under level 4.
“Coming to GBV, I have noted recent media reports claiming that gender-based violence is on the increase. During the week one report even claimed that GBV cases had gone up by 500%.
“While not undermining the gravity of the scourge of GBV in the country, it is important to clarify that this increase is actually in relation to the number of distressed calls made to the GBV Command Centre, and not necessarily reported cases,” said Cele.
He went on to clarify that all crimes against women and children as well as the LGBTQI community are considered gender-based violence and are classified as such by the police when reported.
“For instance, if a woman walking to the shops is mugged and robbed at gunpoint of her personal belongings by a random suspect, that incident is recorded as a crime against a woman and therefore falls under GBV.”
“Therefore, for purposes of measuring the impact of the lockdown on homes and families, we use cases of domestic violence.”
Incidents such as sexual assault, rape, pointing of a firearm, murder, attempted murder, assault and assault GBH, and kidnapping perpetrated against the above-identified group of people all count as domestic violence – especially in cases where the victim and suspect usually have or had a relationship.
“As I have mentioned before, some of the suspects in such cases are uncles, exes, wives and girlfriends, husbands, fathers, partners, siblings, etc,” Cele said.
“If we compare the period 27 March to 21 May 2019 with the lockdown period from 27 March to 19 May 2020, there is a sharp decrease from 21,033 in 2019, to 6,651 cases of domestic violence during the lockdown, giving us a percentage decrease of 68,4%.”
According to the minister, these numbers are in reference to reported cases. He noted that there may be cases where the victims cannot report their abusers.
He urged victims to come forward as the police can only intervene once they are made aware of a case.
“We urge neighbours who are often aware of, or have reason to suspect violent domestic disruptions, to alert the police. Friends, relatives or someone within the shared residence may also alert the police about the abuse on behalf of the victim. As far as possible, victims of domestic violence are reminded that they may approach the Courts for a protection order.”
Because movement is still limited, the minister said that contacting the police telephonically has become more important now than it has ever been.
“As an alternative, the SAPS Emergency Number, 10111 can be called in an emergency including when a crime is in progress. This is for urgent intervention by the police to disrupt further commission of the crime. In areas where there are no 10111 call centres, calls are diverted to the police station closest to the caller.
“Callers that want to remain anonymous may contact SAPS Crime Stop Number 08600 10111 or send a tip-off via MySAPS App which can be downloaded on android and iPhone.”
Other contact details:
- GBV Command Centre – 0800 428 428
- Child-line Toll Free – 0800 055 555
- Life Line 0800 150 150
- Human Trafficking Hotline – 0800 222 777
In addition to reporting crimes, members of the public are also invited to report poor services by the police or lack thereof, first to the station management whose contact numbers must be visibly placed in the CSC.
Complaints can also be lodged with the National Service Complaints Call Centre on 080 033 3177. Automated attendant voice prompts will assist and direct the complainant on how to lodge such a service complaint.
An email can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org