Domestic violence policing inadequate - expert

2014-02-08 09:05

Cape Town - Police officers are not properly implementing the Domestic Violence Act in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, an expert told a commission of inquiry on Friday.

Professor Lillian Artz, a director of the University of Cape Town's gender, health and justice research unit, testified at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry on the police's response to domestic violence and sexual crimes.

She said her research findings were that officers from the various police stations in Khayelitsha were not properly trained in the minimum requirements of dealing with domestic violence according to SA Police Service national instructions.

The first requirement was that a police vehicle be dispatched to the scene without delay.

The second was that the crew of that vehicle be informed of who the complainant was and whether to expect violence.

She said domestic violence only became criminalised when a protection order had been breached, but many people never even followed through with finalising such an order.

‘Untenable situation’

She had conducted research on domestic violence protection order applicants in association with charity organisation Mosaic, which assists the justice department.

Less than 10% of Khayelitsha applicants who were assisted by Mosaic found the police to be helpful and most gave them a score of five out of a possible 10.

"In only 19% of cases were complainants told they could lay a criminal charge at the police station."

Artz said that when the protection order had to be served, many provincial officers misread the Domestic Violence Act and would only serve on the respondent.

The act allowed that any person over the age of 16 could be given an order on behalf of the respondent, she said.

It was, however, not uncommon for the order to be served on the very person who had laid the complaint.

"In practice, the applicant is often the one who is in the house when the protection order is served, who then has to serve it on the respondent. It's just an untenable situation."

‘Mob justice’

She acknowledged systemic failures that prevented officers from fulfilling their duties, including a lack of airtime for cellphones, a lack of police vehicles and reported pressure to keep crime statistics low.

Artz concluded that there had to be a practical, strategic priority for domestic and sexual offences in Khayelitsha.

The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille to probe accusations by civil society formations that police inaction was leading to an increase in "mob justice" killings in the area.

The Social Justice Coalition alleged that police inefficiency was leading to criminals running rampant in the sprawling township, and residents being forced to take the law into their own hands.

The commission's activities were delayed for some time when Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa tried to have the inquiry scrapped.

Mthethwa lost his legal bid to stop the commission in the Constitutional Court in October last year.

The first phase of hearings was expected to end on 21 February.

  • Ons Mense - 2014-02-08 09:10

    All the problems in South Africa relate to one thing...over population in the shallow end of the gene pool.

      Ons Mense - 2014-02-08 10:37

      Mohau Moloto, you have just proved my point with your you even know what a recessive gene is?

      Ons Mense - 2014-02-08 11:23

      Mohau, there is a difference between reading something and understanding something ... europeans are neither albinos nor is their skin colour recessive in the phenotype or the genotype....go and mow the lawn now.

      Nic Mechanic - 2014-02-08 12:31

      ...the lawn is getting longer and longer....

      Enoch Zantsi - 2014-02-08 13:47

      Constantly trying to find ways to validate your invalid self

  • mark.heath.3388 - 2014-02-08 09:20

    Let's just face it, the police force are pretty useless at anything these days.

      Zuki Hlubi RalaRala - 2014-02-08 12:46

      Domestic violence mmh maybe u r also the culpruit black or white

      Rob Martin - 2014-02-08 15:46

      Policing is inadequated anyway.. its a a thankless job.

  • Michael Kleber - 2014-02-08 10:36

    unfortunately rioting is learnt behaviour which was the modus operandi pre 94 , it was used to overthrow the government as they had no voice at the ballot box , now they do have a voice and the problems can be brought down to unemployment , due to our porous borders people are streaming into our country in search of employment , certain government policies are not encouraging foreign investment add to that the threats of nationalisation and of the protesting and rioting is also adding to this .

  • Al Green - 2014-02-08 14:52

    It really irks me when the police are lax at protecting the weakest in our society. Transformational leadership is necessary as well as the proper physical and psychological training. Its actually quite embarrassing when you see many obese, unfit policemen and women out there. It most definitely does not inspire confidence.

  • Mathabo Setlawane - 2014-02-08 15:17

    Aliweyah,for your information DV occurs everywhere across race or economic status.

  • Phoofolo Lebo - 2014-02-08 20:32

    Police Service now its regarded and political party.... all the wrong things are happening blame its put on police. like service delivery, wage increment ,justice system and now its DV. And the most hurting part of this, Police are the part of this community and they also affected. in terms of salary they earn less than the miners earns. but they have bunch of job to do...

  • Cobus Mostert - 2014-02-08 21:38

    so according to the educated professor it is not a crime if you assault your husband/wife if there is no protection order.....bull-crap

  • Carl Nel - 2014-02-09 06:56

    And being a professor in what exactly makes her a so-called "expert" on the way police handle domestic violence in the Cape? Not implementing the act properly is purely an issue of lack of training as she rightfully mentioned, but "lack of airtime for cellphones" has absolutely bugger-all to do with systematic failure. What is the radio network for then? "Domestic violence" is almost as commonplace in the Cape as mieliepap is in the Freestate and one would reasonably expect that police officers in that area should know how to handle those cases. The sole issue here is lack of training, as it is also in all other SAP departments. What happened to the once proud law enforcement department in our beautiful, diverse country? All down the drain, just like all other essential services due to lack of training and no pride in their chosen career paths!

  • AnneMarie Young - 2014-03-31 13:09

    I agree - the police are useless! ex boyfriend violently snatched the 6 year old boy from the back seat of his mother's car in front of his school in Durban, and sets of to Johannesburg with the kid. The police said its "legal" as he is the biological father and if the mother wants the child back she can go and "steal" him back! They refuse to open a case of child abduction!

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