Cape Town - Action Society has raised the alarm about the high number of reported gender-based violence (GBV) cases in the Western Cape.
More than 400 GBV cases were referred to the Social Development Department’s GBV Command Centre in the province.
The provincial Social Development Department revealed that 401 GBV cases were recorded between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
These included 207 cases of physical violence, 60 of emotional abuse, 35 of verbal abuse or intimidation, 33 of child neglect, and 21 of rape or corrective rape.
Action Society has called for more police officers in crime hot spots, increased visibility and to address the DNA backlog.
Action Society spokesperson Ian Cameron said one of the main ways to reduce these statistics is to make sure that the prosecution process is handled correctly.
“There is a major shortage in successful convictions when it comes to gender-based violence and then also a major challenge in making sure that the sentencing or the consequences actually reflect the correct type of punishment for the offence that was committed.
“There’s a general challenge to make sure that these offenders don’t get bail. In many cases, repeat offenders are granted bail and we then see that victims are killed or repeatedly assaulted.”
Cameron said that on visiting a police station in the Mitchells Plain District, he noticed the station received up to 20 gender-based violence complaints per weekend, thus indicating that the number was much higher than depicted.
In South Africa, one in nine rape cases gets reported, with 153 rapes occurring each day.
At police stations, victims are often told to provide proof or evidence that the assault or rape had taken place, or were turned away for several reasons, said Cameron.
Gender-based violence activist June Dolley-Major said more officers were needed, but they needed to be trained and educated on how to deal with gender-based violence cases.
“Having more officers who are not equipped causes more damage than anything else,” Dolley-Major said.
“The forensics backlog needs to be addressed, as well as court postponements. Too many postponements affect the lives of the victims.”
Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said: “While you have to consider your own personal safety, the culture of turning a blind eye to abuse happening in our midst must stop.
“As community members, we all have a role to play to support victims of crime and violence. We can contact the police or even take the victim to the police station to get help. Your intervention could save a life.”