The Portfolio Committees on Police and Women in the Presidency met jointly for the first of a two-day special focus on the Domestic Violence Act and Gender-Based Violence in SA. The South African Police Service (SAPS) presented its biannual report in terms of Section 18 (5) (d) of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) for the period 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2017. The presentation addressed the nature of complaints, departmental actions instituted against police members, members alleged as perpetrators and firearms seized and members identified as domestic violence. The Committee was also taken through Victim-Friendly Rooms (VFRs), monitoring and evaluation, training and capacity building, education and awareness campaigns and continuous improvement and monitoring of the Commission for Gender Equality action plan on domestic violence.
The Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) briefed the Committee on its 11th report on the DVA for the period covering October 2017 to March 2018. The presentation spoke to non-compliance by SAPS members, members as offenders of domestic violence, police station compliance levels and victim-friendly services. The presentation also covered service of protection orders, availability of female police members and recommendations.
The Committee asked SAPS about its commitment to ensure up-to-date tabling of reports on a regular basis, SAPS members killed as a result of femicide or family violence, accurate statistics, if outreach visits by the CSP were also conducted in rural areas and assistance of victims with disabilities. Pointed questions were asked about protocols for survivor interviews, medical testing, enforcement of protection and maintenance orders and if there were enough police officers.
There was emphasis on consequence management for non-compliance by SAPS members and how Provincial Commissioners and Station Commanders would be held responsible for this to ensure domestic violence was prioritised. In line with this, Members questioned the number of SAPS members who were repeat offenders in terms of non-compliance, training done to ensure compliance was constantly enforced and policy recommendations to improve SAPS reporting on cases of domestic violence. Members were vocal in expressing their disappointment with SAPS in failing to protect women and children.
The Committee was alarmed by the number of SAPS members identified as victims of domestic violence coupled with a low conviction rate for the crimes and questioned what measures were taken to address this. There was concern about the response to assist women in rural areas where stations often lacked adequate facilities such as VFRS.
The Rhodes University Student Representative Council (SRC) presented on crime and violence against the youth, challenges experienced specifically in tertiary institutions and how these relate to implementation of the DVA.
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) briefed Members on the DVA in terms of the definition of domestic violence, concerns, intervention by the Commission and the way forward.
The Committee heard the comments of the South African Policing Union (SAPU) on the DVA monitoring report in relation to quality oversight, efficiency of the compliance forum in the context of a legal framework incongruent with current changes, the measurement tool on SAPS members non-compliance, station compliance and implementation and members that failed to comply and failure of members to comply with the DVA and National Instructions based on SAPS records. The presentation also covered non-compliance identified through station visits by the CSP, members as offenders of domestic violence, regulatory compliance and compliance levels per province and compliance levels per focus area. Further, the presentation addressed the status of Victim-Friendly Room functionality, service of protection orders, availability of female members per shift in police stations, training, positive strides and recommendations.
COSATU then took the Committee through its submission on the DVA monitoring report which covered SAPS support for domestic violence survivors, general SAPS challenges, judicial challenges, related societal challenges, support for survivors and legislative amendment proposals.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) presented its comments on the DVA monitoring report in relation to non-compliance with the DVA and National Instructions by SAPS members, members as offenders of domestic violence, availability and functionality of Victim Friendly Rooms, service of protection orders and availability of female members per shift in stations.
Members asked the unions to look into the problem of power dynamics in the unions themselves and the workplace as this has a bearing on matters affecting women. Questions were posed about stations lacking VFRs, discrepancies between forms and what was actually registered, quality parliamentary oversight and coordination between the police and other relevant departments.
The Committee wanted to hear from female police members themselves, as they were also victims of the scourge of gender-based violence, what they thought could be done. Similarly, there was a need to hear from the students what they thought could be done to foster legitimacy of the police as law enforcement as it was serious if students of tertiary institutions were afraid of the police to the extent Members heard. There was discussion on the need to relook at policies and legislative amendments such as to the Liquor Act, Criminal Procedure Act and DVA.
There was concern there was too much talk and not enough action. It was emphasized patriarchy needed to be dismantled for true justice to prevail. It was said SAPS knew what it needed to do – it just lacked the will to put this into action.
The Committee would compile a report for the House on the recommendations made for policy and legislation. There were important matters to address and debate regarding DVA, the role of justice, the role of the police, civil society, the community and family units. The matter would not be addressed without moral direction. There was a duty on SAPS to implement legislation and ensure stations were accessible – people could not be turned away, rape cases cannot be concealed by universities, Station Commanders must take responsibility and there must be consequences. The Criminal Procedure Act must be implemented across the country.
An apology was tendered for the National Commissioner who was abroad.
SAPS Biannual Report in terms of Section 18 (5) (d) of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 for the periods 1 April 2016 – 30 September 2017
Lt. Gen. Lebeoana Tsumane, SAPS Acting National Commissioner, prefaced the presentation by stating his appreciation of the work of the Committee in ensuring the SA Police Service (SAPS) did what it was supposed to in terms of domestic violence cases. The presentation would be an honest one. Concerns would be noted to inform action plans. The aim was to listen, learn and go forward.
Director Mbali Mncadi, SAPS Section Head: Vulnerable Groups and Victim Empowerment, took the Committee through the presentation which began by outlining statutory reporting obligations to the National Commissioner. The presentation then addressed the number and nature of complaints and the number of complaints per province per month from 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016, 1 October 2016 to 31 March 2017 and 1 April 2017 to 30 September 2017. The presentation looked at the nature of complaints against members which included:
- failure to complete SAPS 508 forms
- failure to record in pocketbook
- failure to record in OB
- failure to render service
- no Domestic Violence Register/proper filing in Client Service Centre (CSC)
- station order not updated
A breakdown of complaints against members per province was provided along with departmental actions against members per province and steps taken against members. Also discussed was total number of members identified as alleged domestic violence perpetrators and victims, the number of firearms seized and withdrawn from members per province and the number of designated Victim-Friendly Rooms (VFRs).
Ms Mncadi explained monitoring and evaluation, training and capacity building and public education and awareness. For things to be done differently:
- Research conducted to determine what causes non-compliance
- Rejuvenating Joint Compliance Monitoring, including exploring options for local level monitoring
- Rolling out the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) Action Plan to improve integrated services
- Monitoring the Programme of Action on Violence Against Women and Children
- Initiate Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster projects on Integrated Domestic Violence System
- Tracking and tracing final protection orders from serving to include all processes
- Improving completeness of information, regarding firearm related cases
Civilian Secretariat for Police DVA Report No. 11 October 2017 – March 2018
Mr Alvin Rapea, Secretary for Police, noted that the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) tabled two reports for this period. The presentation would only focus on 11 October 2017 to March 2018 for today.
Mr Takalani Ramaru, CSP Chief Director: Civilian Monitoring and Evaluation, proceeded to take the Committee through the presentation which covers non-compliance data supplied by SAPS and oversight data collected from the police stations. The CSP, together with Provincial Secretariats, conducted oversight visits at 264 police stations across the country during the period 01 April to 30 September 2017. The oversight visits focused on looking at both regulatory and operational compliance on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) by SAPS members.
In terms of non-compliance based on SAPS records, a total of 158 non-compliances were reported to SAPS during this reporting period. Disciplinary processes were initiated for all reported cases. There were three applications for exemptions made by the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner’s office. The exemptions were granted by the Western Cape Provincial Secretariat for all three applications. The presentation looked at the types of non-compliance based on SAPS records which included:
- failure to maintain proper records (files at the CSC, recording in the SAPS 508a and 508b)
- failure to assist a complainant to open a case
- failure to confiscate a firearm from a perpetrator
- failure to serve a protection order
- failure to arrest a perpetrator
With non-compliance identified through oversight visits, oversight visits were conducted in 264 police stations. A total of 57 incidences of non-compliances were identified from three provinces – 55 in the Western Cape and one each in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. There were no records of non-compliance on stations visited in the other provinces during the period under review. Disciplinary proceedings were initiated in 51 cases.
In terms of SAPS members being offenders of the DVA, 12 SAPS members were reported to be the perpetrators of domestic violence from 12 police stations in the 264 visited. The majority of these members (eight) are currently placed within the Visible Policing (VISPOL) units in the respective police stations. There were ten disciplinary processes initiated by the management of police stations concerned. There were six firearms seized.
Mr Ramaru then discussed police station compliance levels saying majority of stations (227) visited were found to be above the 50% compliance level despite the fact that there was no station that achieved 100%. Of these, 150 stations achieved significant compliance levels (70%-99%) and the remaining 77 achieved partial compliance level (50% - 69%). There were 37 stations in five provinces that fell within the non-compliance level. None of the visited police stations achieved full, 100%, compliance levels. Limpopo had the most number of police stations, 14, rated at non-compliance levels.
The presentation then looked at victim-friendly services provided noting that out of the 264 police stations visited, 64% had functional and fully resourced VFRs. A functional and resourced VFR indicates the VFR was open and available for use 24 hours and had resources as stipulated in the National Instruction 2 of 2012. 16% of the stations did not have VFRs and 8% had non-functional VFRs – non-functional VFRs are used as additional office space by police stations that have insufficient office space.
Mr Ramaru looked at the service of protection orders - across the 264, there were 194 police stations able to serve protection orders on time. Protection orders were not served immediately in 40 police stations as obligated by the National Instructions and the DVA.
In terms of the availability of female members, of the visited police stations 89% had female police members deployed in all shifts. In 8% of the police stations female members were deployed in some shifts but not in all shifts due to shortages of female members in those stations. It was only in 2% of the stations where there were no female members in any shift and these were mainly small farm stations.
The report reflects a high number of non-compliance by SAPS members. Some police stations are performing very poorly, e.g. Ibisi in KZN, Deneysville in the Free State, Ilinge and Adelaide in the Eastern Cape, with compliance levels below 30%. There were ten disciplinary proceedings initiated against 12 members who were reported as perpetrators of domestic violence in the police stations visited. This is a commendable response by SAPS management, however sanctions given also need to reflect seriousness of management to tackle domestic violence offending by the SAPS members
- SAPS should closely monitor police stations performing poorly and come up with interventions to assist them in improving compliance
- The working relationship between local courts and police stations should be strengthened in order to improve the service of protection orders
- Disciplinary steps should be taken against Station Commanders whose stations are failing to serve protection orders on time without any valid reasons
The Chairperson noted the SAPS presentation made reference to the compliance forum but there were different time periods involved – was there an effort to ensure up-to-date tabling of reports on a regular basis? The SAPS presentation failed to touch on members killed as a result of femicide or as a result of family violence. This year alone there were many incidents but what did the complete picture reveal? In the North West there was no reporting on domestic violence cases – in terms of consequence management, what was being done to ensure Provincial Commissioners prioritised domestic violence? Is it part of their performance contracts?
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) was alarmed by the number of SAPS members identified as victims of domestic violence. This was especially concerning given the very low conviction rate. Was the CSP saying there were 133 Commanders who did not control their CSCs? 133 was too high a figure – what measures were taken to address this?
Ms L Mabija (ANC) noted that in the SAPS presentation, there was a great amount of failure on the part of the Service to do what it was supposed to – given these failures, how did SAPS ascertain the numbers provided in the presentation were correct? What tool was used to ensure this?
Mr T Nkonzo (ANC) asked how many SAPS members were found to have committed repeat offences in terms of failure to complete SAPS 508A forms, record incidents accurately in the pocketbooks and failure to render the service. Why were 25 cases withdrawn as highlighted in the SAPS presentation? Were SAPS members involved as perpetrators in these cases? Was anyone killed in these cases? He questioned the implications of having zero VFRs in the Free State.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked SAPS when last training for station members took place. Were the planned sessions for the Joint Compliance Fora taking place? She asked the CSP why it did not table the number 11 DVA Report to Parliament.
Ms C Majeke (UDM) wanted to know if SAPS was keen to take action against its own members given that so few police officers were subject to disciplinary processes. She requested SAPS provide statistics on the amount of its members involved in fatal shootings of their intimate partners, if possible. The CSP was asked to provide a policy recommendation on how it intends to improve SAPS reporting on cases of domestic violence by SAPS members.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) translation in progress
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) appreciated the joint meeting to collectively address domestic violence which has become a scourge in SA – this should be sustained moving forward. The CSP made reference to outreach visits – were these visits conducted in both rural and urban areas? In rural areas, there was minimal to no infrastructure which spoke to VFRs or such personnel. There was also the patriarchal influence on society in the rural areas. Where there was no infrastructure, did the CSP make comprehensive presentations concerning recommendations to SAPS to meet these obligations? He raised the matter of a police member in Kwamashu who took the stance of defending his members who was sexually abused and molested by fellow police members – this member faced serious death threats from other police members for defending his colleague and fellow member. SAPS were faltering in its defence of the DVA – for the police to defend the DVA, they themselves must be clean. One wondered about other police officers who feared to take a stand against domestic violence in the Service.
Ms D Robinson (DA) thought there were too many people across the board who did not respect the culture of human rights in SA. She was concerned about sex workers who were often said to be persecuted by law enforcement officers – people may have their own prejudices but officers of the law must keep to the law. It was unacceptable that sex workers were treated in a humiliating, violent way to the point where sometimes the only way they could escape being apprehended was to offer sexual favours for some of the officers.
The Chairperson interjected to remind the Member that the topic she raised is the focus of tomorrow’s meeting.
Ms Robinson acknowledged this. She noted it is often said low reporting rates was as a result of SAPS members not wanting their office or station to look bad – accurate figures were needed to deal with the scourge against women and children, whatever their profession.
Ms T Memela (ANC, Chairperson of PC Women) was very disappointed with the behaviour of some of the police who refused to take statements from victims to the extent where they were actually sent home to discuss the matter as a family – the percentage of this happening was very high in all police stations. When the women were dead and the kids were maimed, there was denial. SAPS were failing women and were instead breeding hatred amongst the communities. If the police failed to hold its officers responsible, members of the community will stand up and charge the commanders and this will not be good. SAPS were doing quite a lot of good work and it should not spoil its records. She asked if the homes were visited for kids placed there by social workers and if what was happening at these homes was thoroughly investigated.
Lt. Gen. Tsumane appreciated the probing questions posed by Members. Concerning the tabling of reports, the Service will look at the guidelines in relation to tabling of reports and SAPS must strictly stick to this. The National Commissioner will be briefed on this to ensure this commitment was upheld.
In relation to femicide, SAPS needs to clearly indicate the stats on family murders and domestic violence – this would be done in future. With prioritising domestic violence cases, it would be a good move to include this in the contracts of senior management. The National Commissioner speaks about performance management and ensuring the contracts of senior personnel aligned to the vision of SAPS and National Development Plan – it would be useful to also look into alignment with the DVA. The number of SAPS members identified as alleged domestic violence perpetrators and victims was alarming and left much to be desired.
Maj. Gen. MM Motlhala, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing, added that there was prioritisation of the reporting by stations especially those stations where there was repeat non-compliance. Management intervention was assisting to ensure there is compliance. Members underwent in-service training regularly.
Ms Mncadi spoke to the correctness of the information presented explaining there was verification of data coming from the provinces in the office of the Provincial Commissioner – it must be signed off by the Provincial Commissioner as true and correct.
Maj. Gen. Motlhala added that line managers, such as Relief Commanders and VISPOL Commanders, are also monitored to ensure they conduct first and second level inspections to ensure accurateness of information is maintained.
Ms Memela asked how many women were involved in this as Station Commanders were often men – how many women was part of these teams? The fight was against patriarchy.
The Chairperson raised the matter of consequence management of Station Commanders – there were stations which were repeat offenders in terms of non-compliance. What was the response of SAPS senior management to this lack of consequence management?
Lt. Gen. Tsumane replied that there was a top-down approach to responsibility. Following the meeting with the Committee last week, the National Commissioner instructed that research be conducted on top management, including Provincial Commissioners, reprimanded or had steps taken against them in relation to matters raised by Members last week. All levels must be held responsible and this was being dealt with. At times station managers were left unattended when discussing consequence management – this will be addressed.
Ms Mabija asked how long this research would take.
Ms Molebatsi said the matter of pocketbooks was very worrisome – the books were small but could not be kept updated. This raised questions about how the bigger log books were kept updated.
The Chairperson said the bigger picture was about consequences for station managers if Sergeants and Constables could turn women reporting domestic violence cases away to sort the issues out amongst the family. Station Commanders must bear the ultimate responsibility or else the scourge would not be turned around.
Ms Khawula translation in progress
Lt. Gen. Tsumane replied that he would engage with the Member to get more information and attend to the complaints.
The pocketbooks have been raised by Members for many years and this was concerning – it showed management needed to go back and look at monitoring mechanisms.
Lt. Gen. Tsumane said he would look into the matter of women involved in the teams because he did not have this information off hand. The National Commissioner was keen on equity and a 50-50 spread. It was encouraging for women members to be dealing with women complainants. Women were often first respondents in the CSCs as the complainants often needed to be dealt with by someone who could sympathise and empathise with the complainants.
Maj. Gen. Motlhala said information on repeat offenders could be provided to the Committee. Reports were being analysed as part of management intervention to identify repeat offenders. Actions ranged from counselling to more serious actions such as written and final written warnings.
Ms P Bhengu-Kombe (ANC) asked if SAPS was doing enough to assist victims with disabilities especially those who were blind and deaf when they reported cases to the stations. Were there facilities such as interpreters to assist with the reporting?
Lt. Gen. Tsumane replied that stations must be accessible to everyone.
Ms Mncadi said the victim empowerment guidelines for SAPS made it clear that Station Commanders need to find out which resources were available within their precinct and then enter into contracts and relationships such as with sign language interpreters. There were Braille documents and pamphlets for victims to know their rights regarding domestic violence.
The Chairperson asked what the reality of this was in the country across all stations – this might be a reality in the urban stations but there were concerns about the stations in deep rural areas. The Committee expected to be provided with a comprehensive written response to this.
Ms Robinson added that with the ramps required for access to stations by disabled people, the angle of the ramps must be checked because often the angle of wheelchair ramps were impractical – there are guidelines on this.
Ms Molebatsi frequented a blind institute in her constituency in Ga-Rankuwa and she has not seen a single Braille paper there.
Ms T Stander (DA) asked if SAPS had protocols in place for survivor interviews and medical testing and if the police were properly trained to deal with this. Why was there not enough police to enforce protection and maintenance orders where husbands defaulted? The SAPS said it had VFRs rooms in almost all stations but this was not true. She relayed an incident from 25 June when she was in the Eastern Cape in a station where a woman’s face was shredded because her husband smashed her with a glass bottle. There was one officer at the station who said he could not help the victim as all vehicles were out. There was no VFR at the station. The woman was begging the only person she thought could help her to arrest her husband but the policeman was unable, not unwilling, to assist. Was there enough police officers? Permanent presence was required in communities where high prevalence of domestic violence was found. People needed to be recruited and trained to keep the peace. A number of rural women were unable to find help when they were victims of ukuthwala or kicked off their property – there were not enough rural response units to assist rural women. The face of poverty and oppression in SA was young, black, female and rural – this was a fact. The role of the police was to ensure these women were protected.
Ms Memela questioned if SAPS measured the effectiveness of the in-service training and when last the modules were checked and evaluated. It is about time Members dealt with facts, and real facts.
Maj. Gen. Motlhala said that as part of the national instruction, pamphlets were displayed in the CSCs to inform SAPS members and the community on what services should be expected from the police. The number of the Station Commander was also displayed in the station should members of the public not be happy with the service received at the station. Also in line with the national instruction, in CSCs, there must be a list of services locally available that victims of domestic violence can be referred to.
Lt. Gen. Tsumane explained all police officers underwent general training but specialised training to address the matter under discussion would be looked into. With the officers unwilling to assist victims of domestic violence, this is part of monitoring processes around domestic violence which will be looked into. The National Commissioner spoke of a strategy to deal with the response to crime in rural areas. If need be, the training modules can be reviewed to ensure there was impact. Emphasis was on implementation of training and regulations. It was the responsibility of SAPS to ensure all laws passed by Members were implemented. Elements of truancy crept in but this would be dealt with.
Lt. Gen. TC Mosikili, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Detective Services, noted that when cases were reported and responded to, the case docket contained a charge to respond to. The docket would not make reference to whether the person involved was a sex worker or not e.g. if there was a case of rape, this would be investigated as such and the docket did not have a separate category to reference sex worker. The system was not classified to record crimes as unique to those involving sex workers.
Lt. Gen. Tsumane said the Committee would be provided with a written response on the number of SAPS members killed in domestic violence incidents as he did not have the information off-hand.
Mr Rapea answered that the CSP DVA Report Number 11 was tabled in Parliament yesterday. There was a delay with ensuring the Minister’s signature was on both the Report and tabling documents.
With the recommendation on the policies, the CSP did not think new policies were required at this stage. There were two relevant policies to deal with domestic violence for implementation by SAPS – there was a policy on reducing barriers to reporting domestic violence and sexual offences (2017) and reducing serial rapes and murders which also addressed domestic violence. The emphasis was on implementation of these policies – evaluation of this was required. The CSP would assist SAPS with implementation. The forum the CSP had with SAPS also dealt with recommendations made.
Mr Ramaru added the CSP identified the number of police stations without VFRs, in conjunction with SAPS management intervention. It was advised to the Minister that funding be requested. This was also discussed with the National Commissioner.
The CSP visited rural and urban stations – the names of the stations visited were included in an annexure to the report. A census of stations was being done where all stations would be visited so that there was baseline information on domestic violence and other matters in the stations.
With the accuracy of stats, the CSP identified, and communicated to SAPS, signed off stats were received from Provincial Commissioners but these stats were based on the 508 register. There was no reconciliation from form one and the register i.e. there were more forms than what was recorded in the register. Reconciliation between the two would improve the stats. An example was in March – September 2017 when SAPS reported on 143 cases of non-compliance – when the CSP requested the supporting documents there were only 137. It was also found when the CSP visited the stations and compared the forms and 508 register.
The CSP said that with the inspections, level one and two inspections were conducted by the Commanders but they did not provide corrective measures to the members which resulted in re-offending.
Rhodes University Student Representative Council (SRC)
Ms Nhlakanipho Mahlangu, Rhodes SRC President, addressed the crime and violence against the youth noting that sexual and gender-based violence must be looked at primarily as a social ill as its existence precedes this generation but it still hugely affects this generation. Conceptions of what it is to prevent violence against the youth often takes the form of prevention of intrusions to their space.- which manifests in the university space in increasing security of the students. As such, young people are vulnerable to conceptions of “Stranger Danger”, when those who victimise them are usually people close to them. As such, the preference is that many student complainants are for internal process as it allows for extreme confidentiality. Another aspect to this is victims feeling unsafe reporting issues of sexual/gender-based violence due to the stigma that exists around these issues and also there is a sense of fear that exists when one has to reveal the identity of the perpetrator publicly (there is no prediction as to whether the perpetrator can react in a way that is further harmful to the victim).
The size of the University space (which is only but a microcosm of society) makes it harder for the victims because they are in contact with their perpetrators more often than not. Within Rhodes University (for example) it is noted that this often manifests in the need for utmost confidentiality in the conclusion of case - a member of the legal team has gone as far as ensuring her office is concealed in order to allow people to pop in and out as the need arises without being seen. As such even spaces with strong feminist supporting cultures are not immune from the sensitivity of the communities as far violence is concerned. While university students are adults, in the most part, they carry the burden of youth which manifests itself in the anticipation of stigmatization and not being understood, particularly by their parents and the adults around them
Ms Mahlangu outlined some challenges experienced specifically in tertiary institutions:
- Elitist notions that surround university students - in this regard perpetrators of domestic violence who are students are often viewed as “incapable” of enacting such actions
- Victims of domestic violence are not from the particular areas they must report, as such SAPS of those particular regions are particularly unfamiliar to them - this results in higher levels of distrust particularly proceeding from Fees Must Fall
- The levels of the distrust of police services is high particularly because victims who report often find themselves at the mercies of the views of the police service personnel who are often insensitive and very brash. As such, universities must play the role of supporting students through the process
- Universities are microcosms of society – as many of the issues underscored by students find expression in general society
In terms of challenges experienced in tertiary institutions and how these relate to implementation of the DVA, universities find themselves in positions where they must implement measures that protect students against sexual and gender-based violence. Students are relying on the university systems to bring about justice when there is an occurrence of gender-based violence. This is worrying nationally because if students do not trust/rely on the countries justice system then who is this system seeking to serve? It is one thing having procedures in place, such as the DVA, but it is another thing effectively implementing it to protect people in society and in this instance, students in the tertiary education system. Protection orders- universities find themselves in positions where they must use their internal disciplinary processes in order to keep students safe from one another because they are directly accountable to their students having to play the role of support in terms of the emotional wellbeing of survivors. Students fear police.
Commission for Gender Equality: Domestic Violence and the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998
The CGE presentation looked at what domestic violence is as defined in the DVA. The Preamble of the Act indicates that domestic violence remains a social ill, with high incidences of domestic violence reported in SA with many of these reported amongst vulnerable groups in society. Chapter 12 of the National Development Plan (NDP) stipulates that “gender-based violence in South Africa is unacceptably high”. The South African murder rate of women was more than five times the global average. Violence against women is one of the 12 critical areas of concern as per the Beijing Platform for action. Violence hurts women and girls and hampers their ability to thrive in many ways.
Since the Beijing Conference, a historic two-thirds of countries have put laws on the book to stop domestic violence. Yet gaps in laws, implementation of legal protection and lack of access to essential services remain for women globally. Ending violence against women is one of the key priorities of UN Women. They support, in as much as the Commission does, expanding access to quality multi-sectorial responses for survivors covering safety, shelter, justice and other essential services. UN Women advocated also for laws, policies and action plans to help step up investments in prevention, the most cost-effective, long term means to stop violence against women. Framing gender-based violence against women as a human rights violation implies an important conceptual shift. It means recognising that women are not exposed to violence by accident or because of an in-born vulnerability. Instead, violence is the result of structural, deep-rooted discrimination which the state has an obligation to address. Preventing and addressing gender-based violence against women is therefore not a charitable act. It is a legal and moral obligation requiring legislative, administrative and institutional measures and reforms and the eradication of gender-stereotypes which perpetuate gender-based violence against women and underpin structural inequality of women and men. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) General Recommendation No 35 provide for the concept of due diligence obligation of states. Under this obligation, states have a duty to take positive action to prevent and protect women from violence, punish perpetrators of violent acts and compensate victims of violence. The principle of due diligence is crucial as it provides the missing link between human rights obligations and acts of private persons.
In the Court monitoring report for the financial year 2017/2018 by the CGE, read together with the “Domestic Violence Discussion Paper 70 of the South African Law Commission” (SALC) and the Domestic Violence Bill, the following challenges where recorded:
- Despite the noble intention of the legislature in the establishment of such courts, the functioning of domestic violence courts is less than desirable
- The “idea” that the Domestic Violence Courts and the Domestic Violence Act are only applicable to women is also a factor which hampers its application to abused men in our society
- The issuance of protection orders remain a great challenge especially in those cases of emergency, where victims are faced with imminent danger. After hour services are limited
After the service of the interim protection order there seems to be a problem in enforcing the order once it is breached. SAPS have a responsibility to ensure that action is taken when an order is breached. Women and children are seen to be the most vulnerable groups to be affected by the perpetrators’ behaviour - it is reported to CGE that SAPS do not refer victims to the Department of Social Development for psychological support/counselling. Victims reported tofficials are not patient enough when assisting them and victims are often subjected to secondary victimisation. There is lack of understanding on the part of police officers in relation to the difference between the DVA and Protection from Harassment Act. There is reluctance on the part of SAPS to serve protection orders under Protection from Harassment Act, especially when the respondent is not a family member as defined in the DVA. There is a lack of adherence to Batho-Pele principles and a lack of communication and/or reporting lines between SAPS and the complainants about progress in their cases and providing clarity on the criminal process, i.e. that the accused is entitled to bail if circumstances permit. DNA results take time at the laboratories and in many instances the complainant loses confidence in the justice system. Proper investigations are not conducted to ensure successful prosecutions of cases. There is a failure on the part of SAPS members to write proper statements even in their investigation diary. This creates loopholes for defence attorneys to argue for the acquittal of the accused person in the circumstances. There is a case in point in Limpopo, and in particular Mankweng SAPS, wherein SAPS members refused to open a case of domestic violence against the respondent. It is alleged the respondent is well known to the police officers who refused to assist the complainant. The complainant was allegedly told by the officers that “they hope that Mankweng criminals can rape her so that she can come and report a proper case”. There are still police stations and officers that opt for mediation as opposed to helping the complainant to get a protection order. There is another case in point in North West, wherein a female was raped by a minor and there was no intervention on the part of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and SAPS, because the perpetrator was still a minor. This matter was brought to the attention of the Commission and as a result the perpetrator has been charged and the Commission continues to monitor the case to finality. Another case in point is in Gauteng, Johannesburg wherein the complainant obtained a protection order against the respondent. The respondent violated the terms of the protection order and he was never arrested because he is a well-known person in the community. The respondent was only arrested on the day that he was appearing in court. There is another case in point in Gauteng - the complainant obtained a protection order against the respondent, who is a member of the SAPS. The respondent violated the protection order and he was never arrested. Some of his colleagues allegedly told the complainant they cannot arrest their senior. The complainant has lodged a complaint with the Commission and the CGE is following up with the Station Commander and relevant officers. It is clear, based on the allegations, that members of the SAPS are reluctant to arrest colleagues on cases of domestic violence. The CGE will monitor the case to make sure justice prevails.
In terms of intervention, the Commission holds JCPS cluster meetings with a view to share its findings of court monitoring with relevant stakeholders. The findings include that the Department of Justice and SAPS need to find a way to strengthen their relation in terms of service of protection orders. There is a need for the review of the DVA, to make an act of domestic violence an offense, and not an incident. SAPS can open a case of assault, however this will take more time to finalise which the leaves the victim vulnerable and there is a possibility of secondary victimisation. The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) needs to re-establish the practice of checking warrants of arrest on a weekly basis at courts. The DVA, in its current form, allows or encourages SAPS to open a case of assault. The NPA is to relook at withdrawal of domestic violence cases and how to effect non-withdrawal restriction - this is a possible legislative amendment. There is a need to look into establishing victim support services in domestic violence courts similar to the support services in sexual offences courts. Many victims are not aware they can report misconduct of SAPS officials. There is a need for service of protection orders during weekends and after hours. The CGE will be having a meeting on 4 September 2018 with the National Commissioner of police, regarding the issue of DNA results taking time.
In terms of the way forward, the legislature has over the years developed legislation for those affected by acts of domestic violence. The purpose has not only been to provide relief to family units but also to persons outside the family unit. This is seen with the Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011 which seeks to address harassment and stalking behaviour which violate constitutional provisions of right to privacy and dignity of individual persons. The Commission seeks to address and eradicate issues of domestic violence through different methods in ensuring complainants receive necessary assistance when faced with issues of domestic violence. The Commission will seek legislative amendment to the DVA. SAPS should look at their training curriculum for domestic violence issues and enhance operating procedures. As enshrined in the Constitution, we all have a duty to ensure that we heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights, this will ensue if we all work together by assisting in eliminating all forms of gender-based violence.
South African Policing Union (SAPU) Comments on the Domestic Violence Act Monitoring Report
As a representative union of a significant number of members of the SAPS, SAPU lauds and supports all efforts to curb domestic violence in society, especially the matter of violence against women and children. SAPU acknowledges that domestic violence is a broad societal issue affecting members of the police service as a matter to be curbed from the perspective of their work and also from that of their individual and personal lives. For this reason SAPU will align itself with all efforts to eradicate the problem and all programmes designed to support citizens and members of the police servince in that effort. Implementation and compliance with the DVA by SAPS and other role players is therefore a matter of great interest to SAPU.
In terms of quality oversight, the report under consideration (April 2017 to September 2017) is a bit outdated for purposes of proper oversight. If the principle of a six monthly report is to be adhered to, there should already be two (six monthly) reports post September 2017 being presumably one for October 2017 to March 2018 and April to September 2018) (we are already in September 2018 in a few days’ time). A report for either October 2017 to March 2018 should be the one under consideration and perhaps also one for April 2018 to September 2018 a few days from now. The report ought to have been considered a year ago so that subsequent reports would enable appreciation of progress on issues that would have been flagged for correction in 2017 reports. This scenario leaves a question mark about whether quality parliamentary oversight is promoted here.
With the efficiency of the compliance forum in the context of a legal framework incongruent with current changes, the compliance forum is a commendable effort at both national and provincial level to access information on members that are not complying with the DVA and the National Instruction 7 of 1999 and, in the main, to assess how SAPS is handling disciplinary processes with regard to cases of non-compliance and for purposes of reporting to Parliament. This process is however not driven by the current National Instruction 7 of 1999, which still refers to the Independent Complaints Directorate (IPID) and does not reflect changes that came with the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act, 2011 (For instance, the National Instruction still refers to IPID with respect to the matter of exemptions and also to outdated police structures such as “Area Commissioners”, etc.). Linked to this challenge is the yet unamended section 18 of the DVA 116 of 1998 which is the main legal instrument not reflecting current changes. Current processes such as the compliance forum are driven by Standard Operating Procedures signed between the National Commissioner and the CSP. This situation may possibly be a factor in the non-compliance debate, given the fact that SAPS is a command-driven organisation responding in the main to the formality of the law and instruction. The question also is what perception does this situation raise considering the serious nature of the issues the same legal framework seeks to regulate.
With the measurement tool on members’ non-compliance, station compliance and implementation and details of members that failed to comply, there is no certainty there is consensus/agreement between SAPS and the CSP with regard to the monitoring tool utilised by the latter to assess station compliance. SAPS seems to have its own internal processes in addition to its station inspections which have DVA as one of the factors to be looked at. For purposes of proper monitoring and measurement of compliance it might be worthwhile to have agreement on the tool or perhaps utilise the same tool, or the SAPS tool take on board elements of that of the CSP. Utilisation of terminology such as “full compliance level”, “significant compliance level”, “partial compliance level” and “non-compliance level” in the measurement tool of the CSP invites this consideration. SAPS and the CSP might need to look at this in the interest of alleviating confusion, communicating the same message, easier implementation of recommendations and measurement of compliance. The relevant issues here are failure to keep a copy of a protection order after being obtained from court, failure to maintain proper records at the CSC, failure to properly record on SAPS 508a and in the domestic violence register (SAPS 508b)), failure to provide satisfactory service to a complainant, failure to provide feedback and failure to arrest a perpetrator. This part is based on non-compliance records as provided by SAPS. 137 cases of non-compliance were recorded and disciplinary steps were taken in all. This is very concerning and therefore SAPS and CSP may want to establish what is it Gauteng, Northern Cape and North West are doing correctly that can be implemented in the Western Cape and Free State. On the other hand these are SAPS figures which could simply be reflecting a high compliance by the Western Cape and North West with respect proper record keeping on non-compliance and the opposite with respect to other provinces. SAPS and CSP may want to re-look this matter to remove the doubt stated above. On the other hand, if the figures above are verified as representing facts then a general consistency of this phenomenon would be indicative of a DVA regulation framework that is failing to protect victims in certain provinces. DVA has been on the statute books since 1998 and by now it ought to be normal to comply rather than the opposite. It might be worthwhile for SAPS and CSP to consider going on some high level research to probe the problem of non-compliance with DVA in general.
In terms of non-compliance identified through station by visits by the CSP, the challenge here is member non-compliance identified through station visits to 291 stations in six provinces. 69 cases for 291 stations is 23.71% non-compliance. This is concerning for domestic violence. The Free State at 34 non-compliances is contributing far more significantly than all other six provinces except for North West which is at 16. 67 out 69 non-compliances are the same as those identified in the records provided by SAPS.
The figures clearly show that the Free State needs serious interventions. High level research is also indicated here for a general probe of non-compliance.
Looking at members as offenders of domestic violence, 36 members from 291 stations were flagged. Any figure representing members as offenders would be concerning as domestic violence is a serious matter.
Park Road Police Station recorded 13 members as DVA offenders. This is a concern. Figures also show members from specialised units such as Dog Units and Public Order Policing. The red flag here relates to a scenario of potentially armed members who may be declared unfit to posses firearms to the detriment of service delivery or fatally harm their families or other people. SAPU legal assistance figures show domestic violence as noticeable amongst members. SAPS and CSP must look at intensifying implementation of programmes directed at assisting members with counselling in their private lives and addressing work-related trauma. The situation at Park Road must be addressed. 19 seizures of firearms from 37 members although one was declared unfit may possibly raise questions around the quality of the proceedings or maybe not – research is needed here.
With regulatory compliance and compliance levels per province, the challenge here is checking availability of documents in the CSC and vehicles, record keeping, submission of monthly reports with reference to maintenance of registers and proper filing of documents, accessibility and maintenance of VFRs. Absence of “full compliance” (100%) is a concern. Disparities that fall within “significant compliance” (70% - 99%) are also concerning. SAPS and CSP must urgently address the problem of stations that registered at “non-compliance level”. SAPS and CSP must look at high level research to probe these problems of compliance. The challenge here would be regulatory compliance, provision of victim friendly service (VFR), recording of domestic violence, understanding implementation of the DVA, record keeping for non compliance by members and record keeping for SAPS domestic violence offenders. No figure exceeds that of 63% recorded for understanding implementation of the DVA as against the lowest of 50% recorded for provision of a Victim Friendly Service (VFR). This is a serious concern as it suggests the presence of conditions conducive for secondary abuse. The 51% for record keeping for SAPS domestic violence offenders as well as the 61% for record keeping of non-compliant members undermines compulsory reporting and therefore management of Domestic Violence in general. SAPS must urgently address the matter of fully resourced VFRs. The CSP and SAPS must do high level research on these serious issues of non-compliance.
Looking at the status of the functionality of VFRs, of 291 stations 60% had VFRs that are functional and resourced as against 16% that had none whatsoever and 8% that had but were not functional. This is a serious challenge as it practically carries potential for secondary abuse. Lack of VFRs is also linked to generally non-compliant stations. The CSP and SAPS must urgently address this and also make this part of the high level research project generally probing non-compliance.
Turning to the service of protection orders, outstanding for more than two months, stations were not serving “immediately” as required by the National Instruction. 66% of protection orders were served within two months, 24% not within two months and there is no record for the balance, presumably 10% (although the report states 9%). Courts taking too long to forward the protection orders is mentioned as a challenge. SAPS must agree standards of performance and timelines with the Department of Justice to address the matter of protection orders that delay reaching the police. The National Instruction must be amended to carry specific time lines within which to serve protection orders. In the event such service not having been done within set time lines, written reasons must be recorded.
The scenario of no females at all or in some shifts only is problematic – this carries the risk of secondary abuse for victims. SAPS must re-look how such stations are resourced. This matter must be part of the high level research project probing non-compliance in general.
The question is if there is training why is there non-compliance. This indicates that a high level research project on all areas of non-compliance be considered.
Looking at the positive strides, it is stated that SAPS is willing but slow. There is joint capacity building sessions through compliance forums. There are also programmes for some non-compliant stations. An awareness campaign strategy for a police station in KZN is also being mentioned. It has to be stated however that stations ultimately account to the Provincial Commissioner. In this regard the Provincial Commissioner and all levels of management must account for both failures and successes. SAPS must review performance plans of all employees, starting with top management, to reflect the management of domestic violence as carrying the same performance weight (if not more) as any other priority performance areas.
In terms of recommendations, in addition to discipline, performance management, general resourcing and training the following must happen:
-The six monthly reports must be finalised in time and considered by Parliament whilst still current. This will ensure that Parliament would be addressing current issues and able to appreciate progress or lack thereof in subsequent reports on matters flagged for correction
-The DVA must be amended to reflect the current situation of the CSP
-The National Instruction must be amended to reflect the current situation relating to the CSP
-The National Instruction must be amended to include specific timelines relating to service of protection orders. It must make provision for reasons to be recorded in the event specific time lines have not been met
-The National Instruction must be amended to tighten the management of the section 102 process in the context of members that commit domestic violence offences. It must be made imperative for commanders to instigate the institution of section 102 proceedings in the event of a final protection order against a member - alternatively it be made imperative for commanders to advise affected witnesses of the provisions of the section 102
-SAPS and CSP must agree on and align their tools of compliance measurement
-Interventions must be done at stations and provinces that show high levels of non-compliance
-SAPS and CSPS must intensify programmes designed at addressing counselling of members in their private lives and trauma in the workplace
-The reporting on members as offenders must not conflate disciplinary hearings with section 102 proceedings and outcomes
-SAPS must agree performance standards and timelines with the Department of Justice regarding receipt of protection orders. The National Instruction must be amended to carry specific time lines on the service of protection orders, as already stated above
-The issue of stations that show lack of numbers in female employees in all or certain shifts must be addressed through proper resourcing as a matter of urgency
-Absence of VCRs and/or unresourced/non-functional ones must be attended to with urgency
-Performance management must be tightened for all levels with respect to management and performance on domestic violence. The same performance weights (if not tighter) meant for other priority performance areas to be considered for domestic violence
-SAPS and CSP must consider a high level research project to probe the whole matter of non-compliance regarding domestic violence
COSATU: Domestic Violence Act Report
Mr Matthew Parks, COSATU Parliamentary Representative, took Members through the presentation by remarking on the SAPS DVA report and SAPS support for domestic violence survivors. General SAPS challenges include:
-SAPS personnel demoralisation, in particular towards domestic violence cases
-Insufficient training, equipment and forensic support for SAPS
-Skewed deployment of SAPS members e.g. to head and provincial offices and desk jobs at stations
Judicial challenges include:
-Few sexual offences courts and personnel
-Lack of survivor holding rooms and mixing in court with perpetrators
-Court backlogs and repeat postponements
-Demoralisation of prosecutors
-Low prosecution, conviction and sentencing rates
Related societal challenges include:
-Need to accept and recognize the crisis
-Responsibility of men (mostly) as perpetrators
-Role of education e.g. families, education institutions, churches, traditional leaders, employers, media, civil society, government etc
-Need for cultural and generational transformation
Support for survivors was required regarding:
-Fear of victims in reporting
-Need to overhaul SAPS and judicial system
-Economic and domestic dependence of survivors upon domestic perpetrators and alternative accommodation and financial support
-Emotional, family and societal support
Legislative amendment proposals included:
-National Liquor Amendment Bill to reduce consumption of alcohol
-DVA and Criminal Procedures Act to tighten sanctions for domestic violence and gender-based violence bail and sentencing
-Fire Arms Amendment Bill to reduce availability of firearms
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU): Domestic Violence Act Monitoring Report
Mr Nkosinathi Theledi, POPCRU Secretary General, noted that today’s discussions are very important to the Union, more so because domestic violence has over the years manifested itself into one of the serious social evils in the country with SA being one of the highest ranking countries on incidences of domestic violence. Regarding non-compliance with the DVA and National Instructions by SAPS, It is disheartening to note that none of the provinces has reached 100% compliance with only 52% rated at significant compliance level. Moreover, the report under review further states that there is a total number of 137 non-compliance cases nationally, which raises a grave concern, taking into cognisance the shocking ratio of domestic violence in SA. POPCRU strongly discourages any acts of premeditated misconduct by members as this compromise better service delivery to society, more especially vulnerable victims of domestic violence in this instance. Notwithstanding this fact, the majority of non-compliance cases are mainly related to failure to properly complete registers and properly filing of documents as reported in annexure A. Based on the rationale in reference, which is mainly administrative in nature, SAPS management is urged to continuously deepen members’ skills and expertise on the essential prerequisite of the DVA and related National Instructions. The CSP state there is a fairly good understanding of implementation of the DVA however, the success rate on compliance contradicts with these findings. There is a need to reemphasise the quality of understanding of members in terms of compliance with regard to the six focus areas is fundamental in obtaining 100% compliance to all focus areas. The alarming statistics on non-compliance serves as clear evidence that more still need to be done - improved and regular training is therefore paramount. Relevant e-filing system coupled with adequate training in all police stations nationwide is fundamental in curbing non-compliance in this regard.
Looking at SAPS members as offenders of domestic violence, it is concerning that 36 SAPS members were reported as perpetrators of domestic violence within 291 police stations visited. As a civil rights union, POPCRU strongly condemns any actions of violence more so when it is perpetuated by an individual who is supposed to enforce law and order within the society. It is acknowledge that police officers are normal human beings with similar social encounters to any other members of society, nonetheless, the nature of police work requires a great sense of self-discipline and the highest level of ethical conduct - we thus require police officers to serve as good examples within society. SAPS should improve Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) to ensure members who encounter psychologically disturbing incidents get access to an effective and confidential therapy immediately. We cannot ignore the fact that police officers are often exposed to a number of traumatic incidents in their line of duty - a need for a well-functional EAP is thus pivotal to ensure that members do not go back to their families in a traumatic condition as this might simply exacerbate acts of violence at times.
With the availability and functionality of VFRs, the unavailability, dysfunctionality and under-resourcing of these facilities in some of the stations definitely defeat the very same objectives of the DVA and all related Instructions respectively. Utilisation of offices as makeshift VFRs in some stations infringes on the privacy of the complainants, more especially when considering reported observations by the CSP. The reality is that these offices, as they would have not been designated to conduct interviews with complainant, are most likely to be frequented during the interview sessions and obviously encroaching on the privacy and disturbing the sessions. Lack of privacy could contribute to two things. Firstly, it must be borne in mind that where privacy is encroached, comfortability and confidence of the complainant is compromised. Secondly, complainants could be dissuaded from coming forward to report their cases. It has been indicated some VFRs were converted into office space where there is not enough office space. This is completely unacceptable. SAPS should allocate sufficient budget to renovate all police stations in-line with the needs of our society. It is really pointless to have good policies such as the DVA without proper resources to augment effective implementation.
Turning to the service protection orders, it is a dismay that police stations are failing to serve protection orders immediately as mandated by the DVA and National Instructions due to poor communication and cooperation between the local police stations and the courts. This conduct is totally unacceptable as it poses a serious threat to the complainants of domestic violence. Both parties should, as a matter of urgency, put in-place relevant interventions of addressing this challenge.
Mr Theledi addressed the availability of female members per shifts in police stations noting that it is common knowledge that majority of domestic violence victims are females - it is therefore based on this premise that victims of this violence prefer to be served by a female police officer as this is likely to reduce the risk of secondary victimisation. It is on this principle that it is unacceptable that SAPS continuously fails to address the long-standing challenge of inadequate female personnel. SAPS management is urged to address this challenge with their current recruitment drive by prioritising high intake of females to increase the current ratio of female police officers.
The report under review clearly reveals that more still need to be done to ensure effective implementation and compliance with the DVA and related National Instructions. The recommendations by the CSP are endorsed and further a collective effort is needed in ensuring the forthcoming monitoring report reflects an improved progress with 100% compliance. All dedicated law enforcement officers who against all odds, continue to work diligently in ensuring that the perpetrators of these reprehensible acts are brought to book are applauded. Let us all work together to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in ending this blood-spattered scourge of domestic violence.
Mr Mhlongo, having come from a union background himself, asked the unions to look into the problem of power dynamics in the unions, such as POPCRU, as the Committee discussed matters affecting women today. Members did not want to hear what the unions thought Members wanted to hear – Members needed to hear the uncomfortable truth to inform legislating. Female SAPS members were also victims of this scourge – Members need to hear from them what needs to be done. The students were raising a very important matter concerning the legitimacy of law enforcement – what is the suggestion to change this because the police could not be wished away and must enforce the law. What can be done to deal with the legitimacy gap raised? It was very serious if students of tertiary institutions were afraid of the police to this extent. The Committee required recommendations from the students on how to move away from this stigma. Regarding the police, unhappy members cannot be expected to deliver a good service to the public – how could these female members be conscientized about their rights so that they felt at home? He agreed with COSATU on the need to broadly relook at the Liquor Act and other laws because South Africans were swimming like fish in alcohol. When the Committee went to China on a study tour, Members even visited the slums and did not see a single drunk person. SA Liquor outlets promoted drinking at sports games – the nation was promoting death.
Ms Khawula translation in progress.
Ms Robinson said the reports presented to the Committee, particularly the one from Rhodes, made her very concerned that while there was much talking, no action was taking place. She has been in Parliament for 15 years and there did not seem a will to act. It seemed there was sometimes obstruction to justice when people were intimidated into not testifying – what can be done to ensure that patriarchy was thrown out by the scruff of the neck and true justice prevailed? There were too many people obfuscating and covering up. While SA prided itself on having a great Constitution, how many people knew what the Constitution actually said? Action must be taken so that justice can prevail.
Ms Mmola asked what happens if someone reported a rape if there was no VFR at the station – where was the statement taken? Why did the CSP only table its Number 11 DVA Report in Parliament yesterday? Was it because it knew it was meeting with the Committee today? What steps were taken against those who did not do their work in terms of the discrepancy picked up by the CSP regarding forms and actual registries? When the CSP said the situation at Park Road station must be addressed, what did this mean? Did it mean no action was taken against station members?
Ms Mabija noted the SAPU presentation questioned quality parliamentary oversight and she asked the Union to provide the Committee with what it considered quality parliamentary oversight. The Committee is effectively implementing its core mandate and function in conjunction with SAPS – the Committee was not resting on its laurels.
Ms Molebatsi questioned if SAPS was really happy that it was doing enough. She relayed a case of a woman who was raped in her area in 2015 but nothing happened until the Gauteng Provincial Commissioner was informed after which the rapist was arrested and appeared in an identity parade. Must people first appeal to SAPS upper echelons to get attention? This case showed SAPS can work when one first appealed at this high level.
Mr J Maake (ANC) noted that it was said the DVA did not seem to cover men who were abused and minors who raped. He added that the Act did not include violence by minors to pensioners in the houses by taking pension money etc. Such aspects should be included in amendments to be made to the Act by the relevant Committee. It should be clear as to which institutions were responsible for dealing with different types of violence. It was noted that in many such crimes, especially domestic violence, the police could only react yet the police were always blamed for such crimes which it could not proactively deal with. Eradicating such crime was not the duty of the police – it could only improve how it dealt with the crime such as ensuring statements were written properly. There was also a culture at tertiary institutions of drinking, initiations and the accompany sexual harassment – this culture and behaviour must be dealt with. It was the responsibility of society, not the police, to deal with flushing this out. Recommendations to improve National Instructions and legislation should be submitted.
Ms Stander said the problems and solutions were known. Her Women’s Day speech was entitled “A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action” – this was needed. It was absolutely unacceptable that it was not known how many VFS units there were or the solutions required. Stats SA, CGE and CSP Reports provided the same stats – she believed the police did not have the will to do something. The police knew what it needed to do it – it was responsible for upholding constitutional rights for safety in SA and women were the most vulnerable. Women have stood up and said domestic violence needs to be addressed – it was spoken about every Woman’s Day, 16 Days of Activism and rallies.
Did SAPS take responsibility and accept it was failing women? Will SAPS make gender-based violence a priority crime? Will SAPS employ more police officers, train them and skill them with the knowledge of how to interact with victims and how to handle their own stresses associated with the job? Will SAPS deploy more police to hotspots? Will SAPS establish more rural response units? Will SAPS develop and formularise protocols for interviews with victims and medical training? How will SAPS ensure it can enforce protection and maintenance orders better? SAPS must engage with other departments as gender inequality and violence is intersectional. SAPS should coordinate efforts with the Departments of Health and Social Development so that when a victim reported to a unit there was onsite assistance from Health and Social Development in terms of medical attention and counselling. What was going on with campus security? It was heard women were being marginalised and their rights abused because universities were covering it up. SAPS must discuss with tertiary institutions on who campus security accounted to and what the responsibilities of universities were in this regard. What would be done about labour? Sexual harassment in the workplace was not discussed – what do women do? Traditional leaders and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs must interact to ensure people knew ukuthwala, mutilation, forced marriages and child marriages were unconstitutional - safety was the responsibly of SAPS.
Ms Khawula translation in progress
Mr Nkonzo noted the CGE was doing a sterling job – he asked SAPS how effective its collaboration was with the Commission on issues identified as related to domestic violence. SAPS needed to explain applications for exceptions and exemptions granted for its members involved in departmental action for non-compliance.
Ms Bhengu-Kombe noted that SAPU raised that in some shifts there were no female police officers at all – how were abused women and children assisted in such a shift? This gave rise to victims being further victimised by the police themselves. Did SAPS think the five day basic training was enough? What did the training curriculum look like? Did such training encourage compliance? She applauded the stations who took it upon themselves to conduct awareness on non-violence against women and children. The absence, lack of resources and non-functioning VFRs in some stations must be addressed with urgency especially in rural areas and informal settlements. Many pilot stations did not have these facilities. In rural areas, it was found two police stations would service many wards and victims would have to travel long distances to report cases. Was the Rhodes University assisting the SRC regarding violence against students? She applauded the SRC for making the Committee, and public, aware of the violence in tertiary institutions.
Ms Mmola questioned how some police shifts could contain no female members at all. On an oversight visit to a station, the Member was shocked that a rape case was reported but those reporting the crime were not helped for five hours because there were no vehicles available – SAPS must improve on the availability of vehicles. The case involved a school child who was raped on her way home from school.
Ms Lulama Nare, CGE Chairperson, pointed out vulnerabilities were also experienced by the LGBTI community at the hands of the police especially in informal settlements and townships. The police must be trained to deal with this grouping and women in the correct manner. The Committee should also be given a sense of how the populous areas were resourced in terms of policing and rules of safety. The Bill of Rights, particularly the equality clause, spoke to non-discrimination. When people were not receiving services required, the CGE viewed it as sexist, prejudiced and as a form of victimisation. The police must ensure there was zero tolerance towards sexism and prejudice in stations – there should be a clear policy in this regard.
Mr Rapea explained the Number 11 Report was finalised and signed on 13 July 2018 – the tabling letters were only prepared later and this resulted in delays. The aim was to complete tabling and finalisation of reports at the same time to prevent future delays.
Mr Ramaru said that when the CSP conducted oversight visits, there was a briefing session with station management to inform them of identified challenges. These challenges were also raised and discussed at the monthly provincial compliance forums. When there was a complaint against a member, SAPS would investigate the matter. If no wrongdoing was found on the side of the member, the investigation would need to be verified by the CSP. Thereafter, if the CSP agreed with no wrongdoing found, an exemption would be granted. If the investigation was not done thoroughly, the exemption would not be granted.
Ms Mahlangu responded that Rhodes was trying to integrate the local police station into university life. This would involve having joint campaigns. This should be done throughout the country to encourage students to trust the police system. Often students did not know where to go to address problems experienced with the police so campaigns would be established around this. Rhodes University was working on the relationship students had with the police. Changes were made by Rhodes University in 2016 although it should be noted internal processes would never be perfect. The SRC envisioned an ideal situation where students could go to the police and have matters sorted out there. Universities should not need internal or parallel processes because of the level of distrust students had of SAPS.
Ms Memela asked what Rhodes had done about dark alleys.
Ms Mahlangu replied that there was work with campus protection to directly report any challenges with infrastructural lighting for immediate addressing. Although dark alleys were a huge problem, the presentation did allude to the fact that most incidents were reported as happening in the residence rooms of students which were places where safety could be enforced to a great extent. Safety and infrastructural challenges around the University were dealt with by being proactive and communicating with the relevant staff constantly.
SAPU would respond to the questions directed to it through a detailed written response.
Mr Parks agreed that it was up to government and society to deal with domestic violence as a priority and to have the political will to deal with it. Parents, churches, schools etc had a role to play as the police could not be everywhere. Government cannot be soft on criminals – the judiciary mollycoddles criminals by granting bail unnecessarily. With legislative amendments, the Committee could initiate a Committee Bill and did not have to wait for the Department to amend the DVA and other Acts. Departments often took long in introducing legislation and there were many Committees doing good work on their own Bills. There was a COSATU gender coordinating committee. Men must take responsibility and acting against gender violence cannot be solely left to the women to champion. Parliament passed the Liquor Products Amendment Bill which was progressive in seeking to limit advertisement of liquor and changing the culture. There must be acceptance by individuals e.g. a bottle store owner seeing a patron is drunk but still selling the patron liquor should be held liable. There was also the role of the Departments of Education ensuring children were taught proper values in Life Orientation as this was a society-wide crisis.
Mr Theledi questioned the extent to which the matters raised by the Committee were taken seriously. For the past seven years, POPCRU raised the challenge of the SAPS top-heavy structure and shortage of members on the ground – no action was seen to address this, at least on the side of the Committee. South Africa’s population has grown since seven years ago but the SAPS post-establishment remained the same on the ground but crime was expected to decrease.
Maj. Gen. Motlhala explained that where there were no VFRs, SAPS directives specified the need for a designated space which was suitable to be utilised. Provincial Commissioners and Station Commanders were given instructions and through compliance inspections, it was checked that there was deployment of female members in all shifts. The National Commissioner instructed the development of a campus safety plan in tertiary institutions to be implemented by all stations – there was a draft document being piloted with an action plan. Each year, there is an approved training plan where all new recruits were trained on victim empowerment and first response to sexual offences and vulnerable children. There were also refresher courses focusing on domestic violence and victim empowerment. SAPS could provide information on liquor enforcement and operations. With its Technology Management Services, SAPS was busy introducing CCTV cameras in all stations to ensure police safety and monitor and evaluate complaints.
Lt. Gen. Tsumane assured Members that the public did not need to seek SAPS higher echelons to address their cases. The culture of reading the code of conduct was being introduced at the start of each shift to ensure everyone was assisted. SAPS were dealing with all matters raised by Ms Stander accordingly and the Service would continue to do so. These matters were included in intervention plans including re-skilling of members and monitoring. These matters were cascaded down to the lower levels especially frontline service. SAPS plans included key stakeholders such as the Department of Health, Social Development and Education. These stakeholders were included in long-term strategic planning. Plans were being piloted at tertiary campuses. Stress was a challenge for SAPS members but this was being looked into. Basic training did not end after five days – there was continuous focus on hotspots for refresher training and re-skilling – this was incumbent on Commanders. It was not the call of SAPS to discriminate against any groups.
Ms Memela noted that there were quite a few dissatisfactions. She wondered if the police members at stations knew that when taking stations, they could influence that the correct schedule was offered. These members must be trained to understand the law and the importance of writing up correct statements. SAPS were asked to open a door, not a window, to work with other groupings dealing with these matters. For example, the Human Rights Commission and CGE understood these matters well. The reports on the DVA presented were a disgrace and caused people to have an attitude to the police, who the public depended on.
The Chairperson asked that any questions not responded to be done son in writing in the next seven days. There was high-quality input today. The Committee would compile a report for the House on the recommendations made for policy and legislation. There were input matters to address and debate regarding DVA, the role of justice, the role of the police, civil society, the community and family units. The matter would not be addressed without moral direction. There was a duty on SAPS to implement legislation and ensure stations were accessible – people could not be turned away, rape cases cannot be concealed by universities, Station Commanders must take responsibility and there must be consequences. The Criminal Procedure Act must be implemented across the country.
The meeting was adjourned.
- SAPS: Draft Programmee of the Domestic Violence Act and Crimes against Women and Children from 28-29 August 2018
- Police And Prisons Civil Rights Union submission
- CSP: DVA Report no 11
- SAPS: Biannual Report in terms of Section 18(5)(d) of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998
- SAPU: Report on the Status of DVA Implementation and Compliance by SAPS
- CGE: Domestic Violence and the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998
- COSATU Submission: Domestic Violence Act Report
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