Lawyers offer free services to fight domestic violence

2013-08-07 08:56

Attorneys will help the police free of charge in cases of domestic violence.

“We are committed to doing what we can to break the cycle of violence being experienced by the more vulnerable members of our society,” said Law Society of SA (LSSA) family law and gender committees chairwoman Martha Mbhele.

In a joint statement, the police and the LSSA said they hoped to strengthen the message that domestic violence would not be tolerated, and to help the police appropriately deal with victims.

“The initiative stems from the public perception that the victims of domestic and gender-based violence do not get the appropriate assistance and treatment in every matter when they approach the [SA Police Service (SAPS)],” they said.

They believed attorneys and the police were duty bound to ensure victims received the correct services when reporting domestic violence crimes, so their cases were successfully processed through the justice system.

It was envisaged that attorneys – supported by NGOs – would supplement and complement the existing police training by offering information sessions on how to appropriately deal with domestic violence and its victims.

“We want a cadre of police leaders and trainers who can guide and assist operational police officers on the ground to deal with what are often difficult situations that require critical decisions to be made even by junior officers,” said Maj-Gen Susan Pienaar.

“Those in leadership positions will then be better placed to sensitise those who deal with domestic violence issues at grassroots level, where the victims report the abuse to the SAPS.”

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