SA women critical of justice system - survey

By Drum Digital
14 April 2015

Women were less satisfied with the way courts work than men, Statistician General Pali Lehohla said in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“They feel that not much justice has been done if you look at rape and assault,” he said.

Satisfaction with courts declined from around 70% among respondents in 1998 to about 64% in 2013/14.

Lehohla was briefing reporters on the “Public perceptions about crime prevention and the criminal justice system” report.

A representative sample of 30 000 households took part in the survey, which looked at perceptions of how the police, courts and prisons were run.

“The level of appreciation of this system is not excellent, 49% is a fail in my books,” he said of the level of satisfaction with correctional services recorded in 2013/14.

“The public used to have courts as credible sources of meeting justice, but this had dropped,” he said.

Satisfaction with police however increased from 38% in 1998 to just under 60% in 2013/14. It reached a peak of 64% in 2011.

“The range is from a C, D and E, not a B or A,” he said, referring to symbols used in schools to grade performance.

Speculating about the possible causes of the decline, which the report did not deal with, Lehohla said the financial crisis of 2008 and the strain this placed on households may have contributed.

Analysed by province, the current level of satisfaction with police was the highest in the Western Cape, at 64% and lowest in the North West, at just under 50%. It was 59% in Gauteng.

Analysed by race, households on the Cape Flats were least likely to be satisfied with the police’s work, due to high crime rates in the area.

Over 70% of respondents in the Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo were satisfied with the way courts were doing their job. In the Western Cape it was lowest, at 45% of respondents. With few exceptions, people’s perceptions of how police, detectives, prosecutors and judges handled victims of burglaries and assaults worsened between 2011 and 2013/14.

“The level of satisfaction with the way in which detectives, prosecutors and judges handled their cases decreased steadily over the years,” the report states.

People tended to take steps to protect their homes irrespective of their level of satisfaction with the police. Those households which had firearms were less likely to be satisfied with the police. Lehohla said the statistics were intended to help improve policy.

“What we are trying to do is to sharpen the pencil of policy,” he said. There needed to be integration between the three arms of the justice system – the police, courts, and prisons and people had to be given incentives to ensure crime was reported.

“To the extent that the system is fragmented it is less likely to capture public confidence in the way justice is meted out.”

Source : News24

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