Grassy Park police are concerned about the high number of domestic violence cases being withdrawn of late.
According to police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith, more than half the domestic violence cases reported at the local station are withdrawn by those who open them.
Kleinsmith says cases are being withdrawn soon after being reported or often after the alleged abuser has been arrested.
Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuse and harassment. The violence is not limited to damage to property, stalking or other abusive behaviour that threatens the victim’s health, safety and wellbeing.
“Victims could apply for a protection order, but they need to know their rights and limitations and need to adhere to the conditions stipulated on this order. The police find that people misuse the Act most of the time, because we want them to understand that when they open a case, and the perpetrator is arrested, such cases will not be withdrawn at the station, but at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court,” says Kleinsmith.
She adds that police at the station will continue to monitor false cases made, saying they are aware that people sometimes open cases if they want their spouses or partners to be “locked up for selfish reasons”. As a result, Kleinsmith says, a case of perjury will be opened if someone is found to have misused the act of opening a case of domestic violence, adding the police take this matter very seriously.
“In most cases, drugs and alcohol abuse play a big role in the reporting of domestic violence cases and in some cases victims are financially, emotionally and physically dependent on the suspects and fear loss of income, etc. Alcohol and drugs are the main contributing factors in most if not all crimes against women and children. It has taken communities down a road of moral decay and increased substance abuse to such a level that it has destroyed the moral fibre to its core,” says Kleinsmith.
The policing of illegal shebeens and drug outlets has been prioritised, with Kleinsmith saying that this shows the need for police to regulate the sale of liquor.
“Both liquor and drugs have contributed to crimes such as murder, attempted murder, assaults, culpable homicide, rape and sexual assault. The community might think that raiding illegal shebeens is trivial and that there are more serious crimes to be policed, but the illegal sale of these factors is a serious offence and leads to many social ills in the community including teenage and unwanted pregnancies,” she adds.
The police urge victims to seek help and not to stay in relationships which can result in abuse in hopes that the situation could change.
“There is a victim-friendly room at every police station where you will get the necessary information on what to do, and [will be] referred to outside agencies like Mosaic, Famsa, etc. for both you and the perpetrator to get the necessary help if you are in an abusive relationship. Or speak out to someone you trust, but please don’t keep quiet and suffer in silence – seek help,” Kleinsmith says.
A victim or any other person who has a material interest in the wellbeing of the victim can lay a criminal charge.
“Grassy Park Police Station has victim support volunteers and a victim-friendly room where victims of crime can be interviewed in private and where they can seek help and speak to our friendly volunteers, who will listen and refer the victim, if the victim needs more assistance in what they are dealing with,” concludes Kleinsmith.