South African women’s safety is taken very seriously, Police Minister Bheki Cele said in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Cele and other ministers in the security cluster answered questions on Wednesday, with the recent spate of femicide and xenophobic attacks often raised.
DA MP Andrew Whitfield asked if it was correct that 76% of police stations didn’t have kits to gather evidence from rape survivors by the end of July.
Cele confirmed that this was indeed the case.
“There were stations that are overloaded when it comes to these kinds of crimes, so the police tried to shift the few [kits] that were available to those stations,” he said.
He said the matter has now been resolved.
On August 16, the police signed a contract with a supplier for three years, and that same day kits were delivered to police stations.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 kits have already been delivered and by October 14 all of the kits will be delivered.
According to Cele, the shortages occurred because the police had to cancel a contract for the sexual assault evidence collection kits with a previous supplier following allegations of corruption between the contractor and some police officials.
He said this “suspicion of corruption” had to be investigated.
FF Plus MP Tammy Breedt asked if Cele agrees that the unavailability of the kits at 76% of police stations shows that the safety and security of women is not a priority for the state.
“No, I do not agree,” Cele said.
“In South Africa, the question of safety and security of women is taken very seriously.”
He said they have re-established the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS unit) and that this has resulted in 4,000 life sentences for perpetrators of such crimes.
IFP MP Zandile Majozi asked what will happen to the officers who “ran away” when the police had an operation in the Johannesburg CBD to confiscate counterfeit goods.
“They did not run, they retreated!” Cele responded.
He said it is part of their training to retreat when a situation does not suit them. He said they re-organised and went back.
“They did very well,” he said, adding that they made more than 600 arrests.
He said the police officers who stole some of the goods have been arrested and are on trial.
“For us, they are not officers, they are criminals,” he said.
Whitfield also asked about the recent attacks where shops were burned and looted.
“We are looking at the criminality of the matter, rather than the xenophobia of the matter,” Cele said.
He pointed out that many South African shops were also burned.
He said the police have arrested about 280 people “for getting involved in such activities”.