Police taken to task over domestic violence

2012-10-18 22:46
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Cape Town - Police management was roasted on Thursday for failing to act against neglect within its ranks to enforce the Domestic Violence Act, 14 years after it was passed.

The police's handling of domestic violence cases was a "national disgrace", said Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard.

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said senior police officers gave the same excuses year after year.

Other members of Parliament's portfolio committee on police said oversight visits to police stations had revealed that officers were not taking domestic violence cases seriously.

The MPs were responding to promises by police management that this would be rectified.

Deputy national commissioner Lieutenant General Fannie Masemola conceded there were problems.

"We have issued national instructions that clarify what is expected from provincial commissioners in terms of this specific legislation, and we undertake to commit to relook at what exactly is the problem," Masemola said.

This reply had MPs seething. Congress of the People MP Mluleki George said this was an empty promise made annually to the committee. He blamed the attitude of officers.

"Here is a lady that has been abused by her husband and then they [officers] say: 'He's your husband, why didn't you do something?'

"And you find a man abused by the wife, he goes and reports it and they [officers] say: 'What type of man are you?'"

George said many people were not willing to report domestic violence cases at police stations because they feared being ridiculed.

Kohler Barnard said the police's annual report showed that not a single officer had been held accountable for this.

Officers failed to record the names of perpetrators in domestic violence registers, which meant they were often successful when applying for firearm licences.

"I'm currently dealing with someone who beat his wife up, was let out on bail, went home, got his legal firearm and shot her in the face," Kohler Barnard said.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega said the MPs were not being fair.

"It appears we've just been languishing and sitting in the sun and not doing anything. If that is not discouraging, I don't know how to describe that."

Phiyega dismissed MPs' claims that senior police managers approached Parliament with a lack of seriousness.

"We are willing to take criticism, but let it be criticism aimed at helping us to do our work and not criticism that says we are nothing, we are the worst you've met in your entire lives," she said.

Committee chairperson Annelize van Wyk had to step in when angry MPs wanted to engage Phiyega on her statements.

Van Wyk denied Phiyega's claims that MPs were being irrational.

"We are going to ask questions, we are not going to be pussy-footing around," Van Wyk said.

Read more on:    cope  |  police  |  da  |  ff plus  |  riah phiyega  |  pieter groenewald  |  annelize van wyk  |  dianne kohler barnard

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