Police taken to task over domestic violence

2012-10-18 22:46

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.

  • denise.ryan.5203 - 2012-10-19 01:05

    Shock-revelations that the ANC-regime’s crime-intelligence section created an artifical rightwing group called the Boeremag in which their agent-provocateurs lured conservative Afrikaners in faked ‘bomb-attack-plans and treasonous threats against the state’.

      tsietsi.gagai - 2012-10-19 01:23

      Nd de relevance of dat to domestic(family)violence??

      LanfearM - 2013-02-18 12:11

      This is totally irrelevant to the articel about domestic violence. Besides, don't blame the "fake boeremag" for those idiots' actions, they chose to do so themselves.

  • Charles Frederik Robberts - 2012-10-19 04:06


      beverly.young3 - 2012-10-19 05:13

      @ CHARLES F Roberts....Hey! what dont these 'posters' understand about the article? Its about okes hitting their wives for f***k sake!!!!! They are so quick to latch onto a subject, ??? domestic violence? that it becomes a platform for political nonsense again.....god spare us. Anyway,....sadly it is a HUGE problem, as the police cannot deal with ordinary people.....I once had to lecture the the local police on 'bilking'.....(I was in tourism for many years) and they were dumb struck that there was actually a law against skipping without was actually rather funny. The mayor of a certain town, booked into a B & B....had a massive party there,wine-women-and- song, smashed the place up and then tried to leave, 3 days early, and not pay. I blocked him in, so that his car could not be moved, and called the police, (useless) etc then the lecture to them. However, I phoned the town, screamed at the town manager and would not let the mayor move until the full bill was paid, damages, extra guests and all. BTW, the average call to the police for or on behalf of 'domestic violence' is up to 60 calls a our region. Mostly reported by neighbours. It is a terrbile, terrible crime, and can lead to the death of a person. Children too are often the victims.

  • andre.vandeventer.16 - 2012-10-19 07:14

    The SAPS should also be taken to task for not fulfilling their obligation to protect the citizens of the country to combat all forms of crime (while not doing the crime them self!), such as murder, assault, corruption, theft, burglary, hi-jacking and failing to protect citizens when it is their duty to do so!

  • Andrea - 2012-10-19 08:08

    To the lady who was asked so blatantly "why didn't you do something?": go do something now, and when they come to arrest you for murder, I'd love to be in court when you repeat the officer's command.

  • gerrit.vanpletzen - 2012-10-19 11:51

    It keeps down the stats, so the police will look good.

  • marzedt.debeer - 2012-10-19 12:17

    If the National Commissioner of the SAPS cannot recognise that a problem exits nothing will be done. The piblic is tired of the defensive attitude of the senior management of the SAPS, no wonder the civil claims are in the billions

  • debduplessis - 2013-01-07 09:04

    Women dont bother to report it cos when they do 1. Police tell a person they can not act without a Protection Order, no details recorded what so ever & that protection order takes 2 hours to obtain 2. Court tells a person Protection Order takes couple weeks as hearings need to happen, Officer handling application provides a person with unanswered Court number to contact to find out status of application 4. Court Officer handling application tells a person to take your almost-tears & emotional sh*t elsewhere 5. Court Helpers of the Court Officer (male) offer emotional "counselling" as process is traumatic - Court Helper takes a persons number & says HE will make contact once application status is known 6. Court Helper starts one hour calls & before long is inviting for lunch, supper & within 3 hours is telling a victim via sms to finger yourself etc ... now a victim lands up with two problems & can not go back to court cos the Helper is "waiting for you" so one is not able to go collect the protection order so badly needed!!!!!! The law & process allow men to abuse their families, they abuse the victims & when the victims are seriously injured or killed ... Police just say "You should have reported it" ---- so go figure as to why a women does not report it or goes into hiding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      debduplessis - 2013-01-07 10:28

      "they abuse the victims" = Court Official (female) and Court Helpers (male)

  • LanfearM - 2013-02-18 12:15

    This is closely linked with rape cases, where rape victims have been laughed at in the police station when they tried to report the rape. It is disgraceful and instead of complaining about critique, the SAPS should do something about it! If they do their jobs, they won't be subject to such critique.

  • sonstrale - 2013-06-12 23:35

    The police wants the public to assist them with solving crimes.Im sure the public would like to help but it will not happen if the police don't change their attitudes regarding certain issues.It is also very difficult for a woman to report being raped because of the lack of privacy.We want to see the sensitive side of the police.

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