Increased incidents of rape, murder and assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm recorded against women between January and March signified the huge importance of effectively implementing government policies.
These legislative instruments, according to Thandiwe McCloy, spokesperson for People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa), included the national strategic plan on violence against women and children, including femicide.
However, McCloy said government could not address violence against women and children alone, and funding was required to support the work done by organisations such as Powa.
This followed the release of crime statistics for this period by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday.
Compared with the same period last year, there was an increase in contact crimes, which included murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, robbery with aggravating circumstances and common assault.
“These statistics also highlight the importance of the work of Powa and other organisations in addressing the high rates of violence against women and the need for us to receive more funding in order to expand it,” said McCloy.
She said that in working to address South Africa’s crisis of such violence, Powa provided various services to its survivors, including counselling, shelter, legal services and skills development opportunities.
Ntebaleng Morake, Social Justice Coalition programmes manager, said the statistics – especially those relating to sexual offences – told a story of a society with a social fabric that had normalised elements of high-power masculinity.
She added that the country needed to have a different conversation about sexual offences.
Morake said the statistics did not reflect the true extent of what had been happening on the ground, and that society rewarded perpetrators of sexual offences.
“How many cases can we name where someone’s been publicly outed – be it in a courtroom or on a social platform – but they still go on to occupy a very serious role in society? There are no social consequences of violence committed on women. It’s more shameful at this point, I think, to be someone who’s a survivor of a sexual offence than to be a perpetrator. It’s something men go out and brag about,” said Morake.
She said perpetrators were not taking the criminal justice system seriously.
On Friday, Cele also decried the increase in recorded cases, saying there was no “answer” that “justified these dismal figures”.
He said police across the country agreed that police stations needed to do things differently to ensure better outcomes.
“We need deeper partnerships with communities, built on trust, commitment and delivery. It’s on this score that this ministry will continue to lend support to aggressively restore the trust deficit in some community relationships. After all, police officers can’t police communities that they’re not part of.
“Equally, we’re aware that trust isn’t bought – trust is earned.”
Women and children
Figures show that attempted murder cases involving children dropped by 6.8% this year, but it increased for women by 32.1%, compared with the same period last year.
- According to the figures, 355 attempted murder cases were recorded against children during the same period last year, compared with 331 this year;
- In relation to women, 925 cases of attempted murder were recorded during the same period last year, compared with 1 222 this year;
- Murder cases against women totalled 764 between January and March last year. These increased to 898 during the same period this year;
- In relation to children, 223 murder cases were recorded during the same period last year, compared with 306 this year;
- Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm on women stood at 12 620 during the same period last year, compared with 15 034 cases recorded this year; and
- Regarding children, 1 719 assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm cases were recorded during the same period last year, compared with 1 937 recorded this year.
There was an increase in burglary at residential premises and theft of cars, motorcycles and stock during the period under review. However, a decrease of 6.4% was recorded in burglary at nonresidential properties.
Other serious offences such as commercial crime and theft increased, while shoplifting decreased by 11.3%.
Police reported a decrease in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, drug-related crimes and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.