Police failure to help in domestic violence cases is misconduct- Lawyers for Human Rights

2017-06-21 22:10
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Johannesburg - Police failure to assist complainants with respect to the Domestic Violence Act (116 of 1998) has been viewed as misconduct, and a disciplinable offence, the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said on Wednesday.

LHR was reacting to police as well as the Civilian Secretariat for Police reports on police compliance with the act, presented in the portfolio committee on police in Parliament on Tuesday.

LHR said while the Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula outlined that domestic violence remains a priority crime, the report presented in Parliament did not bear that out.

"The reports we saw today are totally unacceptable. These numbers can't be right. The same problems with the sampling methodology and suspiciously low levels non-compliance are evident year on year, without change," said the attorney in the LHR Gender Equality Programme, Sonja Bornman.

Bornman said serious questions were raised about the ability of the secretariat to monitor SAPS compliance at the provincial level, and the validity of the data points presented.

"Provinces have a lot of explaining to do. We are also shocked by what appears to be utter failure to properly discipline non-compliant officers, especially those who are perpetrators of domestic violence themselves," she added.

'Serious questions'

During the April 2015/March 2016 period, the secretariat visited 546 police stations, and full police compliance with the Domestic Violence Act was reported in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. However, only one case of non-compliance was reported in KwaZulu-Natal.

"The portfolio committee rightly questioned these highly unlikely numbers, and the secretariat had to agree that their sampling methodology is problematic," Bornman added.

She said the secretariat then reported that for the period April - September 2016, not one of the 246 stations visited was 100% compliant.

"We have serious questions about the ability of the secretariat to monitor SAPS compliance at the provincial level, and the validity of the data points presented.

''Provinces have a lot of explaining to do. We are also shocked by what appears to be utter failure to properly discipline non-compliant officers, especially those who are perpetrators of domestic violence themselves."

Domestic violence is extremely prevalent in South Africa, and if left to escalate can result in death, she said.

Non-compliance numbers rose to 641 incidents for the period October 2015 - March 2016, with as few as three cases in Mpumalanga, and nine in the North West.

Of these, 357 were "non-serious" and subject to "remedial steps", and 190 cases were still under investigation.

Read more on:    police  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  gender rights

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