NGO calls for life sentences for rapists

2015-06-22 21:18

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Johannesburg - Government should make sure those found guilty of rape spend the rest of their lives in jail, Women and Men Against Child Abuse said on Monday.

This was after it was revealed that out of 2 852 rape cases reported in Mpumalanga between 2013 and 2015, only 62 people had been convicted for the crimes.

"Our stand is maximum sentencing for rape. If we are serious about eradicating this scourge, we need to hand out life sentences," spokesperson Germaine Vogel told News24.

"We are not saying bring back the death penalty, [but] we need harsher sentencing."

She said perpetrators who had solid evidence connecting them to the crime should not waste state resources by going through trials. They should be arrested and convicted at once.

In a Democratic Alliance statement on Sunday, MPL Jane Sithole said the rape conviction statistics were revealed in a written reply to questions put to Community Safety MEC Vusi Shongwe.

The reply also revealed that in the Arconhoek cluster, there was only one conviction out of 1043 cases that had been reported between 2013 and 2015.

The most "successful" cluster was Piet Retief which had 71 convictions out of the 459 cases reported during the period.

Shongwe's spokesperson Joseph Mabuza said on Monday the low rate of convictions had a lot to do with the victims not following through with the legal process, after opening a case.

"If there is missing information in the dockets it makes the convictions difficult, all the stakeholders involved in the process should assist - including members of the community," Mabuza said.

"If you go to the police station and open a case and you don't attend court and give evidence it will be thrown out."

Mabuza also encouraged those who had witnessed the crimes to also assist police.

Vogel said government needed to train police officers and prosecutors on how to handle rape victims because up until the courts found the rapists guilty, most of the victims were almost always treated as though they were at fault or lying.

This contributed to the number of victims who did not want to report the cases or follow them up, she said.

Read more on:    crime

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