News24

Abuse victims 'must persevere'

2008-09-01 18:02

Cape Town - Victims of abuse, particularly women and children, withdraw their cases too often, resulting in an alarmingly low conviction rate, Western Cape police commissioner Mzwandile Petros said.

"On a Friday and Saturday you have long queues of people reporting crimes against women and children and then on Monday you have a long queue of people wanting to withdraw these cases," Petros told journalists.

The commissioner, who has recently been re-appointed to his position after completing five years in the role, spoke to the media on Friday about his plans for the next five years.

"I am concerned as the commissioner of police about the conviction rate of these cases," he said.

"If I have a one percent conviction rate I have to be concerned about it."

He said Western Cape police planned to continue building partnerships in the criminal justice system and with relevant NGOs to help victims follow through with cases.

'Five start' stations

Petros, who achieved a 32% reduction in violent crimes in the province in his five years, outlined several new strategies to improve service, including an SMS feedback service to complainants and the roll-out of "five star" police stations across 17 sites.

These stations would have minimum requirements in place, such as how long phones ring before they are answered, the number of patrol vehicles available, and general "service delivery" quality.

He has overseen the rollout of 13 more Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units (FCS) in the province in the past five years, and has plans for more.

"August is the month of the women but we are saying all 365 days are women and children days," he said.

Petros also celebrated the successes of the War Room on crime, commending the media and public for partnering with police in its centralised crackdown on serious crimes in the province.

He noted that a new strategy to have more officers walking their beats instead of driving was proving effective in Cape Town's CBD.

"I might be buying fewer vehicles these next couple of years and I might be building more gyms," he told media.

Corrupt police officers would be arrested, and have been in the past. "It's not something that we are proud of," he said. "When you see the police you should feel safe."

He also denied allegations about an allegedly tense relationship with the DA-lead City of Cape Town, stating that representatives from the city were invited to regular meetings.