Committee worries over police’s lack of evidence kits for rape victims

Committee worries over police’s lack of evidence kits for rape victims

Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: Gallo Image

The portfolio committee’s chair Tina Joemat-Pettersson called on police senior management to urgently revise its strategies to deal with gender-based violence.

The portfolio committee on the police is concerned about the shortage of kits to gather evidence from rape survivors, its chairperson, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, said in a statement about Women’s Month.

She called on the police’s senior management to urgently revise its strategies to deal with gender-based violence.

“In commemorating Women’s Month, the committee is aware that the rights of women and children continue to be undermined as a result of acts of violence perpetrated against them,” read the statement.

It is concerned about the shortage of the kits required to collect evidence from rape victims and called on the police to urgently deal with this matter and ensure there availability at all police stations.

The committee also called on police management to ensure that police stations were at all times ready to deal with acts of violence against women and children. It also wants the family violence, child protection and sexual offences units to be expanded to enhance the specialist investigative capacity to deal with gender-based violence.

Furthermore, the committee has called for police management to ensure there are adequately trained female members to deal with gender-based violence victims and be able to take samples by using the sexual violence evidence kits.

The committee also wants training modules, including a component for gender-based violence, rolled out for trainee police officers.

“The minister [Bheki Cele] made a few undertakings during his budget vote speech around gender-based violence, it is now up to the national police commissioner [General Khehla Sitole] and his leadership cohort to implement those promises,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

“Of high priority must be strengthening strategies to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence and establishing an environment conducive for women and children to report these cases at police stations.”

However, Joemat-Pettersson said the committee is cognisant of the fact there was a need for a collaborative and multi-dimensional approach to successfully end the scourge of gender-based violence.

This includes measures to reduce alcohol and substance abuse across the country, measures to grow the economy and decrease unemployment and poverty, as well as a societal commitment to monitor abuses against women in their communities.

“The committee, in performing its oversight duty, will intensify its monitoring of the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act by checking the support and assistance victims receive at all police stations,” the statement read.

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