Cancellation of tender for rape and DNA collection kits deals a massive blow to the fight against sexual violence in SA

The DA notes the admission by the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) that there is a shortage of rape and DNA collection kits at some of its police stations, and we are concerned by the fact the procurement process is reported to have faltered due to the unsuitability of all the bidders involved.

According to the SAPS, “two of the suppliers that took part in the bid process were disqualified because they could not meet the specifications as outlined by the department. During this process, the SAPS however discovered that the third supplier that did meet the required specifications is currently under criminal investigation”.

The DA previously revealed massive shortages of 18,637 rape kits and 43,489 DNA kits in the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units alone in several provinces.

These statistics are both shocking and reflective of the nation-wide crisis in which victims of rape and abuse are failed on a constant basis due to the under-resourced and under-equipped police service.

The SAPS does not seem to take the matter as seriously as they should, failing to acknowledge that this is a crisis for thousands of rape victims across the country. That this situation has come to pass is due to appalling mismanagement in the SAPS.

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, must ensure that the bidding process to stock up much-needed and crucial equipments is urgently but lawfully expedited to ensure that perpetrators are successfully prosecuted and that victims of rape and abuse – many of them children – can be confident that justice will be served when they report these cases to the police.

Minister Cele must urgently address the chronic mismanagement in the SAPS and tackle the numerous issues which impede the police’s ability to ensure safe streets and safe homes for all South Africans.


SAPS members with criminal records in Mangaung FCS unit highlights nation-wide police mismanagement problem

This statement follows an oversight visit to Mangaung Police Station in the Free State by DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP.

Please find soundbites in English and IsiZulu by Mr Mbhele.

Today’s oversight visit to the Mangaung Police Station’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit in the Free State, highlights a nation-wide problem of police members with criminal records, which is reflective of mismanagement on the part of the police top brass.

In Mangaung specifically, there are 3 FCS SAPS members with criminal charges relating to the defrauding of SASSA, reckless driving and assault. According to the law, someone with a criminal record is not eligible to serve as a police officer. However, in the course of the oversight visit, an explanation was brought forth to indicate that at least one of the criminal records is a case of wrongful conviction that needs to be investigated, as the member was not aware of the record against their name and was never called as a witness to a court process that resulted in the conviction.

Whatever the full facts of the matter, it is clear that there has been a management failure in the criminal justice system whereby the criminal record was not picked up earlier and the member thus afforded an opportunity to explain the preceding circumstances and apply for condonation or expungement.

It’s patently clear that police members who have criminal records would either be not fit to serve in the SAPS and especially to deal with children and victims of sexual violence, or they might have been failed by mismanagement to ensure correct records concerning their criminal status, which could potentially haunt the careers of serving members unfairly.

The fact that there are cops with convictions still in the police service, especially the critical component such as the FCS unit, demonstrates that the ANC government does not care enough to ensure SAPS members are fit and proper for serving those affected by crime, or at the least is mismanaging these records and human resource systems.

The entire SAPS leadership crisis continues to fail our people, especially victims of rape, due to the under-resourced and under-trained police service.

The fight against the unacceptably high levels of crimes becomes a futile exercise when the police service is harbouring police officers with criminal records.

The DA has relentlessly called on the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to ensure an overhaul of the SAPS leadership and the adequate training of the police personnel in order to ensure the safety of all South Africans in their homes and in the streets.

If Minister Cele was serious about his job, he would crack down on criminal cops, remove from the service those who rightly should be, and ensure a swift and effective condonation process for those who qualify for it. Individuals who are not fit-for-purpose offer nothing in the bid to fight crime and make South Africa safe.

Minister Cele must immediately remove patently criminal cops and clean up the records such that they should not put an unjust stain against the names of men and women in the SAPS.

Just one Family, Child and Sexual Crime unit for every 6.5 police stations

The DA is deeply concerned by data released today showing that on average just one in every 6.5 SAPS Stations around South Africa have Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offence (FCS) units.
This shocking statistic is contained in in a report tabled by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) entitled ‘Struggling to meet the ends of justice: Assessing Departmental Responses to CGE findings on the Victims Charter.’
Minister Mbalula has recently made many comments about the SAPS commitment to addressing the extremely high levels of violence against women and children, yet the fact that approximately one in six police stations have a FCS unit does not support his claims. In light of the current crisis of domestic violence and sexual offences, the DA believes there should be more FCS units, especially in hotspot areas.
These units are vital as they are the spearhead of investigating any reported child abuse or exploitation, rape and domestic abuse, to ensure that victims receive justice for the hurt of the ordeals they have been through at the hands of perpetrators, who are made to face the consequences of their criminality through convictions.
This is a direct failure of National Government, which, under the ANC has neglected the protection of women and children, and survivors of rape and abuse. The ANC government should hang its head in shame that a survivor is still unlikely to receive speedy justice and see their abusers appropriately punished.
I will request that Minister Mbalula urgently and fully account to Parliament for the ongoing gaps in FCS units investigative capacity.
The stark reality is that the SAPS are simply not equipped to effectively address violence against women and children, along with serious resourcing failings by government that hamstring the SAPS.
Mbalula must get his focus onto the resourcing of our SAPS, stop wasting time on objectiveless twitter campaigns, and get serious about what victims and survivors of crime need.
If we are going to bring down the unacceptably high levels of violence against women and children, we cannot accept that just one FCS unit has to cover 6.5 stations.

This ANC government has failed women and children

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, during the debate on violence against women and children.
This debate is important because women and children in our country deserve to live in safe homes and to be able to walk in safe streets. This debate is important because gender-based violence and domestic abuse is a violation of rights and it is a failure of the ANC government to protect women and children.
This debate is important, particularly to me, because this scourge in our society is one that I take personally. My own mother’s passing six and a half years ago in a brutal murder means that I have directly and deeply felt the trauma that the evil of this femicide epidemic wreaks on our nation.
On Saturday 20 May, I attended the #NotInMyName March in Pretoria along with DA Shadow Minister of Justice, Glynnis Breytenbach. The march was an important expression of outrage from men to other men about the unacceptable violence that is perpetrated against women and children on a daily basis.
It is high time that combating gender-based violence shifted from simply lamenting and condemning it, to men playing the key role of calling each other out and holding each other accountable for sexist, misogynistic and otherwise generally patriarchal attitudes that enable violence against women.
We must seek to deter this scourge in two ways: firstly, through a more effective criminal justice system that won’t let perpetrators get away with it and secondly, also through building new social norms of gender equality and stigmatising violence against women and children as well as the men who commit it.
Two departments in this ANC government exist to do exactly these things, so why are they failing to do so?
The change we need means having Ministers who do not blame the victims of gender violence for their own death. The change we need means having Ministers who do not reduce abusive relationships to flippant advice to women that leaving a man the first time he hits you will solve the problem.
If we are to challenging centuries, if not millennia, of deeply entrenched social codes and conventions we need leaders in government who themselves are committed to this change.
It means taking on and challenging the manner in which these social codes and conventions are transmitted intergenerationally and how they are internally conditioned in our psyches and worldviews. It means facing up to the ways in which patriarchal ideas are held and reinforced by both men and women.
It also means confronting all dimensions of how these ideas and attitudes manifest, including as hate crimes against lesbian women and transgender people. Activism against violence directed at women and dismantling patriarchy is also a fight against homophobia and transphobia.
The scourge of violence is made worse by ineffective policing and police indifference to many cases and victims.
In this debate, we need the Police Minister, the Justice Minister and the Minister of Women in the Presidency to account for the failures of organs of state that are meant to play a key role to keep safe the most vulnerable in our society. Ministers Mbalula, Masutha and Shabangu must, here and today, tell the nation their government’s plan to make our country safe for all women.
South Africa needs an emergency plan on women’s safety. We do not need more empty promises.
They need to start with capacitating the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units in the South African Police Service (SAPS). These units on average remain under-staffed and under-resourced and there simply are not enough of them.
Today police have one hand tied behind their back when trying to combat violence against women because the officers themselves are stretched too thin. We need swift, quality investigations, that secure high conviction rates, and we need a plan from Minister Mbalula to ensure this.
While the police cannot by themselves prevent domestic violence or rape, they can and they must take each case seriously. This means a new level of training, on gender and sexual crimes must be implemented, and we await to hear Minister Mbalula’s plan on this.
However, effective policing cannot be realised while many stations do not have victim-friendly rooms and rape test kits. Effective policing can also not be realised when, as often happens in much of the country, there aren’t enough vehicles to undertake visible patrols or respond to emergency call-outs.
Sex trafficking syndicates who prey on vulnerable girls and women in this country will not be tackled and defeated without an effective Crime Intelligence division. Unless we boost our Detective Services, those who commit violence against women and children will know that they can do so with impunity and little to no chance of getting caught and facing the consequences of their crimes.
South Africa demands that justice is served for every victim and that every perpetrator can be made an example of. This is the responsibility of Minister Masutha, from whom we expect a clear direction on improving prosecutions for sexual violence. Our courts must also be ready to better manage protection orders, and more quickly dispense them – for this Minister Masutha must answer to this House.
The last 23 years of ANC governance have shown that the ANC is incapable of making our country safe for all women.
That is why the time for change is ripe. That change will come through a new government led by the DA from 2019, when we will demonstrate our resolve to bring safe streets and safe homes to all communities, where everyone, especially women and children, can live with true freedom.