SA still has no sexual offences policy

2011-06-21 21:29

Cape Town - Four years after the law on sexual offences was reviewed, the justice department conceded on Tuesday it was still struggling to finalise a national policy framework on how to implement it.

The failures range from completing a national register of sexual offenders, giving rape victims access to antiretrovirals and training police and prosecutors to deal with victims, department officials told Parliament's portfolio committee on justice.

Advocate Praise Kambula, director of child justice and family law, blamed the delay on difficulty in bringing together different government and provincial departments.

"To get nine heads of departments at any working session is not easy." Acting director general of justice, Simon Jiyane, said "not all" departments had complied with a June 17 deadline to report on their progress in implementing the policy.

"Before the end of July we should get the final reports."

Committee chairperson Luwellyn Landers condemned the state of affairs.

"I'm very disturbed. I'm beginning to understand why NGOs were sitting on my back... Maybe we expected too much when we approved the law amendments. Maybe we had stars in our eyes."

Delays not acceptable

The African Christian Democratic Party's Steve Swart pointed out that the initial deadline for a policy framework to be tabled was 2009, two years after the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act was passed.

That deadline was not met and subsequently extended to March 2010.

"The delays with this thing are just not acceptable," he said.

Swart wanted to know whether the state had set an overall budget for medication to rape victims, since the task of gazetting 100 facilities providing post-exposure prophylaxis was not complete.

Landers warned it would be idealistic to expect all victims to get ready access to antiretrovirals.

"If somebody is raped in the deep rural areas, you and I know that there is not going to be post-prophylaxis provided."

Lisa Vetten from the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre said the police were mistakenly directing victims to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital for the drugs.

She said ultimately the health department deserved blame for this because it was its task to gazette a list, which it had not done.

Vetten told MPs the centre had resorted using the Promotion of Access to Information Act to force departments to disclose progress in giving effect to the law changes.

Victims not getting priority

She said so far only Gauteng had been training public servants to handle rape victims with the necessary sensitivity for the past three years. A training course lasted 10 days, which she described as adequate.

The Western Cape had been doing training for one year, and presented only a one-day course.

Vetten said it was worrying that the training was done with foreign donor funding from the US embassy and Unicef, because this meant the state was not budgeting for it.

"What happens if that funding disappears?"

Vetten said it was of concern that the justice department was reluctant to operate special courts to deal with sexual offences, because magistrates found it traumatising hearing only these cases.

"It suggests that the system is taking priority over the victims."

The committee resolved to call Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to report to it on the overall implementation of policy.

The law amendment creates new categories of sexual offences, recognises male rape and obliges the state to set up an integrated national register of sexual offenders.

The justice ministry said in December it had spent R5m capturing the names of sexual offenders convicted since mid-2009, and would start capturing past offenders.

Radebe said since the information would mostly come from the police, there would be delays as they needed to update their automated fingerprint information system to help with the process.

  • Ian - 2011-06-21 21:53

    of course it dosent, clueless clowns

  • Anonymous Thinker - 2011-06-21 22:19

    @helenzille @sapresident @Patriciadelille How is that average poor Joe in rural area can get his monthly anti-viral meds for free but a rape victim can't? You cannot expect all police personel to do courses on "rape sensitivity" especially considering that many still have the mindset that its the victims fault. Why not do some job creation and hire proper counselors? Or work on policy like doctors. Doctors have to do 2yrs in public health. Why not the same for psychologists, social workers and counselors? When I studied counseling, my college made 6months service mandatory. Protection and justice for victims of sexual offenses in this country is a joke. Government is more concerned about hiding their corruption from the public than it is in protecting them!

      Frungy - 2011-06-22 05:53

      Anonymous - Psychologists already have to do a 1 year internship, and it could be done at a state facility ... except that apart from the Army there are very few internships in the public sector mostly because there's an attitude in Government that a 10 day course is a sufficient substitute for the 7+ years of education your average psychologist has so they don't hire qualified and experienced psychologists, and without registered psychologists to supervise them you can't have interns. Personally I pity those rape victims who have to receive "counselling" from bottom-of-the-barrel police personnel who were probably sent on the training because they're viewed as too thick to put on the streets.

  • Palian - 2011-06-21 22:31

    'SA still has no sexual offences policy' er, does. its called offend, shower, lie.

      CONCERNED - 2011-06-22 10:49

      scary but true

  • OZNOB - 2011-06-21 22:47

    have those relevant heads of dept who are dragging their heels be charged for gross negligence to the detriment of the sexual offence victims- its an absolute shame

  • tdk25 - 2011-06-21 22:48

    WTF??? Politicians are really stupid!!!! It's simple:IF YOU COMMIT A SEXUAL OFFENCE YOU SHOULD BE THROWN IN JAIL FOREVER or even better shoot them right between the eyes!!!!

  • James Weather - 2011-06-21 22:48

    Come now guys DNA Profiling!!! EVERY convicted criminal should have a profile done. Get the labs in order and get cops trained on colleting evidence. And about the lack of will to see this law go through is SHOCKING !!! Those heads of departments should stop f*****&^%ing around and deal with the very serious matter. I mean could they not give a damn about the people out their getting abused while they driving fancy cars and sipping the fines wines. Get your act together and show us you mean what you say about service delivery. DA where is your voice and influence on this matter?

  • Pencilgraffiti - 2011-06-21 22:50

    In a country where gays and lesbians are being raped repeatedly, women raped everyday and general respect for one another at an absolute zero, thanks to our President setting the highest of examples... This should be an absolute priority! Why the F&@k can't these people do their jobs?!!! Ministers should be fired because of this!!!

  • Larro - 2011-06-22 00:14

    For SHAME South Africa!

  • noitall - 2011-06-22 06:36

    Would someone rich guy please pay these a...holes a bonus to finalize the policy. The only thing that works if if there is something in it for them.

  • CONCERNED - 2011-06-22 10:49

    We are victims of rape to a 3 yearold and we know how ridiculous the system is.

  • Radicalsparrow - 2011-06-22 14:08

    All standard fingerprinting done at home affairs and other government departments, plus all fingerprints of offenders from police should go on a single fingerprint database. Profiling of convicts DNA should be completed as part of their records. Why is there no money nor skills to do anything properly? Because (A)top level management organogrammes in Government are (1) overpopulated - leaner structures needed.. (2) grossly overpaid and (B)posts on middle managements are created and never filled so that the budgetary provision for salaries can be raided for necessities like expensive trips, parties, bonuses...check it out.

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