SAPS takes fight against gender-based violence online

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 27 Jul 2020
Minister of police Bheki Cele.
Minister of police Bheki Cele.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is planning a virtual campaign to fight gender-based violence (GBV) and ensure local communities are educated about domestic violence processes.

This information came to light during police minister Bheki Cele’s tabling of his department’s adjustment budget.

Governments across the globe, including South Africa, have noted an increase in domestic abuse as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

In SA, the rate of GBV-related offences is unprecedented,with the GBV call centre reporting a spike in gender violence-related calls in the two months after the nation-wide lockdown was announced.

According to the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, one in four South African women will experience violence by men, and are five times more likely to be killed. A woman is murdered every three hours in the country.

The SAPS has also received widespread criticism for how it handles GBV-related cases.

Cele told the virtual sitting of the National Assembly that the police service is working on initiatives aimed at improving access to support services for survivors through victim-centric criminal justice services.

“As part of the Women’s Month activities, the department together with provincial departments will embark on a virtual media campaign to educate communities on SAPS response to reported GBV cases.

“The aim is to empower communities on understanding the reporting process, assistance provided by the various entities within the criminal justice system and what to do if they are not satisfied with the response provided by the police.”

The police minister also revealed the National Community Police Consultative Forum would participate in a pilot project aimed at removing barriers to the reporting of gender-based violence and assist to mobilise communities for early interventions to address gender-based violence.

In addition, SAPS is in the process of signing a service level agreement with the Department of Social Development to avail enough safe houses for victims of crime and to avail social workers as an additional resource in this regard.

“The tide must change on how we respond to gender-based violence matters. The victims of gender-based violence should not be the ones forced to flee their homes to seek places of safety.

“Chairperson, it is time we turn things around and force abusers to be the ones who are cast out of their homes and not the victims,” said Cele.