Four in 100 rapists get jail

2013-02-14 00:00

IT is estimated that only 4,1% of rapists end up behind bars.

This has emerged from a study in Gauteng by the Tswharanang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC), the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced this week that a ministerial task team had recommended special courts for sexual offences.

The annual police crime statistics report for 2011/12 said that 48 003 rape survivors had reported cases to police.

“The study found that police only made an arrest in 50,5% of cases reported,” said Francois van Jaarsveld of TLAC.

Professor Rachel Jukes of the MRC said the council found that only one in 25 rapes was reported to the police.

Van Jaarsveld said that study was conducted in 2008, and the fact that it had not been repeated more recently was a concern.

Experts reacted with shock when told of the findings.

Dr Susan Gräbe, who researches rape victims, said South Africa’s biggest problem in prosecuting rapists was the lack of training for police, medical practitioners, social workers and the judiciary.

“Continued training and support are very important because it is exhausting work.

“In America, staff in their children’s units are restricted to one case that goes to trial per year.

Locally, people are overworked and underqualified.”

Dr Ann Skelton, director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, welcomed Radebe’s announcement to reopen the specialist courts and said there was lots of expertise and research in the country that could ease the process.

“Police stations are a big problem. The delay between a rape and the investigation is often too long.

“More could be done at ordinary police stations in co-operation with the prosecution authorities and the Health Department.”

National police spokesperson Brigadier Phuti Setati said the police had reopened the successful Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Crimes units to solve these problems.

He also questioned the prosecution statistics, and said the police were working under immense pressure.

“Many rapes are reported late, sometimes years after the fact. Furthermore, the perpetrators of rapes of children and disabled people are seldom identified. Social workers are often not available,” Setati said.

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