Cape Town – Civil society and NGOs on Friday pleaded with police top brass for rape statistics to be reported as a separate crime category.
Categorising rape as part of sexual offences was not helpful, an Institute for Security Studies representative said during a media briefing in Parliament on the 2015/16 crime statistics.
If police provided the number of reported rapes, they would be able to see where they were occurring and who they affected. Others in the room echoed this plea.
While there had been a 3.2% drop in sexual offences for the last year, many felt this was due to underreporting.
Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said there had been “all manner of allegations” about underreporting.
He said the work of non-governmental and community-based organisations should not be underestimated, since much awareness had been created about sexual abuse.
Acting police commissioner Lt-Gen Khomotso Phahlane said forensic evidence and the DNA act played a critical part in the downward trend of sexual offences. The relevant police units were doing “great work”.
“We can’t say more about underreporting because we can only deal with those reported to us.”
No answer was given on why rape statistics were not provided.
Mainly occurs indoors
Phahlane said they took rape very seriously.
“That is why life imprisonment is one of the outcomes. When we deal with rape, we deal with it knowing very well that a person has been violated.”
According to Nhleko’s presentation during the media briefing, rape accounted for 80% of total sexual offences, and sexual assault 12%.
They mainly occurred indoors, which “made it difficult to combat by means of conventional policing methods”. Alcohol was frequently a contributing factor.
Victims were often targeted while on their way home from taverns or bars. They were generally overpowered and raped in criminal’s homes, unoccupied residences, or bushy areas.
Victims of street robberies were often also raped.
Most victims knew their attackers, although ratios differed from province.