Police chief 'must act on uncollected rape kits'
Johannesburg - Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Mzwandile Petros must ensure all unprocessed rape kits are collected from Johannesburg hospitals by week's end, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.
"Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Petros must ensure that all these kits are collected before the end of this week and submitted to the forensic laboratories," DA Gauteng spokesperson on safety and security, Kate Lorimer, said in a statement..
"He must ensure that investigating officers responsible for these cases are summarily disciplined and that new investigators are placed on these cases."
Lorimer was commenting on a report in The Star newspaper on Monday that hundreds of rape kits which help police gather evidence were "gathering dust" in hospitals, allowing rapists to walk free.
The kits, containing swabs of semen, blood and other evidence, lay uncollected in public and private hospitals.
As a result, rape cases were not investigated and court cases were delayed, according to the report.
"These rape kits are essential as they contain evidence that can convict rapists," Lorimer said.
"It is horrifying to think of the number of rape victims in Gauteng who have been denied justice due to bad policing practice. These survivors of brutal sex crimes are now being re-traumatised as they realise their cases have not been properly dealt with by the police.
"Rapists are usually multiple offenders. How many victims could have been spared the horrors of rape if kits had been collected and processed when a rape was initially reported?"
An investigation by the newspaper found kits at one hospital were not collected for four years, while the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital had run out of storage space as it has so many kits, some dating back to 2000.
In April two female police officers were arrested in Tshwane after 126 stolen rape files and evidence files were found in their possession and an employee at the Pretoria forensic laboratory described the problem of uncollected kits as a "national tragedy", the report read.
Police were meant to collect the kits once doctors had finished treating the patients, an employee at the laboratory told The Star.