Video: Multiparty Women’s Caucus
The Multiparty Women’s Caucus (MPWC) met in a virtual session for briefings by several stakeholders on gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), with input being provided by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) and the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI).
The Committee was briefed on the integration of the criminal justice information system, sexual offences courts, rape kits’ availability in police stations, the training of professionals for intervention and support, the elimination of DNA backlogs, the implementation of intermediaries and the prosecution of GBV cases.
The Deputy Minister Justice said that GBVF affected everyone, and together “they held the key to unlock the chains which held so many women captive.” He emphasised that society could no longer turn a blind eye to the cries for help, and that it was the responsibility of everyone to end the culture of silence around GBVF. The government had re-prioritised R1.6 billion to combat GBVF. The number of shelters and care centres had been increased and the capacity of the police to deal with GBVF had been improved. He highlighted that the Department had embarked on “Under the Tree” dialogues which engaged men and boys to change the toxic attitudes around beliefs, masculinity and patriarchy which led to violence against women and children. The sexual offences courts worked closely with Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) which were attached to specific hospitals and allowed victims to seek treatment at the same time that evidence was collected. There were 55 TCCs across the country, and six more would be opened.
The NPA said there had been an increase in the number of cases that were finalised and prosecuted in July, August and September on GBVF. There was a huge DNA backlog in the submission of forensic reports by SAPS, which was a challenge, as it was a crucial link in providing evidence. There had been a notable 38%increase in matters reported at TCC sites between August and October. COVID-19 and the lockdown regulations had negatively affected the finalisation of GBV cases.
SAPS reported that a work study investigation into the establishment of GBV desks at police stations was under way. It said that backlogs were still being experienced on DNA testing, but that this aspect was being prioritised since the lockdown restrictions had been eased to Level 1. It assured the Committee that police stations were equipped with sufficient rape kits to ensure that victims of GBV were assisted.
The Committee heard that the SAJEI held training and information sessions on GBVF, court regulations and judicial management, as well as on GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Committee expressed their appreciation for the presentations. Members raised concerns over cyber security issues, corrupt officials, community awareness and sensitisation on GBV, educational programmes, service delivery and the location of TCCs. Concerns were also raised over the DNA backlogs, the availability of test kits at police stations, the capacity of satellite police stations, and the ability of the justice system to cater for the needs of the disabled.
The Chairperson referred to the five days of mourning for those who had succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic, or were victims of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). She quoted the Deputy President as saying that women could no longer live alongside men who disregarded their lives and freedom. He had called on all South Africans to wear a black armband or anything in black which would signify the days of mourning. All families, communities and organisations were called upon to set up memorial corners for those who had lost their lives. The ANC caucus had held a launch the previous day of the concept document for the 16 days of activism which campaigned for no violence against women and children. She said the Women’s Caucus was saying “no” to GBVF.
Deputy Minister’s opening comments
Mr John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice, made a short introduction to the briefings to be presented by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI).
He said South Africa observed five days of mourning, from 25 to 29 November, for victims of COVID-19 and GBVF. As a nation, they were horrified every time a woman or child was raped and killed. Expressing disbelief and condemnation was not enough, and there was a need to ensure that concrete actions were taken to end the surge in GBVF. They had to do all they could to protect and promote the rights of women and children. President Ramaphosa had announced the Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) to speedily address the scourge of GBVF. The plan called for urgent measures which would assist in strengthening the criminal justice system, combating and addressing GBVF, and enhancing the legal and policy framework to assist in the care and support for victims and survivors.
Government had reprioritised R1.6 billion for the plan. The number of shelters and care centres had been increased and the capacity of police had been improved to deal with GBVF. Sexual offences courts were signed into operation in February, and would now be in accordance with the regulations set out in the catalogue of support services and resources that constitute a Section 55 (a) Sexual Offences Court. These services include court preparation, emotional containment, trauma debriefing, private testifying services and intermediary services. Many people who watched the Omotoso case were outraged by how a witness, Cheryl Zondi, was treated during the proceedings. Intermediary services were being considered to spare victims secondary trauma.
The sexual offences courts work closely with Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) which were attached to specific hospitals and allowed victims to seek treatment at the same time that evidence was collected. There were 55 TCCs across the country, and six more would be opened. Considering the 2018/19 domestic violence cases, what stood out as most concerning was that more than 50% of cases were removed from the court role or withdrawn. Women were often reluctant to proceed with cases as their abuser threatened to withhold money or food from them and their children.
This had also raised issues on maintenance, and how men and boys were engaged on issues of GBVF. Patriarchy and toxic masculinity played a role in GBVF, which was why it was crucial to address men and boys. The Department had embarked on “Under the Tree” dialogues which engage men and boys to change toxic attitudes around beliefs, masculinity and patriarchy, which lead to violence against women and children.
Three amendment Bills had been introduced which were aimed at closing the gaps which allowed the perpetrators of GBVF to evade justice. He mentioned that Parliament had recently taken action against a magistrate who had taken inappropriate action in a number of sexual offences matters.
He thanked the Caucus for the opportunity to present, and said that GBVF affected everyone. Together, they held the key to unlock the chains which hold so many women captive.
NPA National Strategic Plan on GBVF
AdvPierre Smith, Acting Special Director: Sexual offences and Community Affairs, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) made the presentation to the Committee, with assistance from Ms Lizelle Africa, Acting Deputy Director: Sexual offences and Community Affairs, NPA.
They described the challenges and interventions required to ensure successful prosecutions in sexual offences cases. The NPA’s focus on GBVF was a national priority for all 11 divisions, both locally and provincially. Cases were monitored through integrated stakeholder engagement at both local and provincial levels, including the challenges experienced and the backlog of cases. If this was not dealt with at a divisional level, it was escalated to a national level. At the local TCC sites, local implementation meetings were held.
Covid-19 and related lockdown regulations had impacted on the backlog of cases and the productivity of the courts. Human resource constraints were about specialisation and required more specialised prosecutors. The NPA was presently considering the possibility of contract appointments.
There was an increase in the number of cases that were finalised and prosecuted in July, August and September on GBVF. There was a DNA backlog in the submission of forensic reports by the South African Police Service (SAPS) which was a challenge, and was a crucial link in providing evidence. The NPA had provided extensive inputs in relation to the drafting of the amendments to the recent GBV Bills. This confirmed its responsibility and commitment towards the implementation and application of the relevant sections in the legislation once passed.
The training requirements to ensure that proceedings were victim-centred, ensuring that victims were not additionally traumatised, were described to the Committee. Since the implementation of Act 32 of 2007 as amended, the NPA had commenced with advanced training on the prosecution of sexual offence matters and integrated training for stakeholders, focusing specifically on all victim-centred provisions in the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 as amended, which includes relevant protective measures. A social context awareness module was included in the national training for prosecutors, as well as for key stakeholders, which was reflected in section 66 of Act 32/2007 as amended. The training curriculum was amended on an annual basis to ensure it was in line with the latest developments. Public legal education and public awareness delivered by NPA prosecutors and TCC staff were ongoing. The TCCs would conduct approximately 46 public awareness/outreach programmes during the 16 Days of Activism on “No Violence on Women and Children.”
Specialised attention was focused on the management of GBVF, such as on courts, specialist prosecutors, court preparation officers and the TCC model. Case flow management resided with the judiciary, and the granting of postponements was at the discretion of the presiding officer. There were certain interdependencies that affected the management of cases and reasons for postponement, such as Department of Correctional Services (DCS) challenges about prisoners not arriving at court, attorney’s withdrawing from record or non-availability at court, non-availability of court personnel, witnesses not at court and investigation reasons. The negative impact of COVID-19 had caused a massive drop in finalisation, unavailability of court personnel, witnesses and accused at court, but there had been a higher finalisation rate in October versus August. There had been an increase of TCC cases finalised, and an increase in performance of 97%. For TCC cases, the number of life imprisonment sentences as at October 2020 amounted to 18. This number was at 81, from April to the present.
On DNA backlogs, during the first phase, the NPA had submitted 235 cases to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) and had received 79 reports on this. During the second phase, 1 612 cases were submitted and 303 feedback reports were received. The NPA was considering having more specialised positions for prosecutors either permanently or on contract and the numbers must still be determined according to the need.
There were challenges to the effective functioning of TCCs. The TCC model was a one-stop integrated rape care (sexual offences) management model that was victim-centred and court directed, with prosecutor-guided investigations and stakeholder cooperation. The model required three staff members, such as a case manager, site coordinator and victim assistant officer. It could be noted that the model only required one of these positions to be considered operational. The success of the model was dependent on all relevant stakeholders, such as the NPA, the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Social Development (DSD), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the SAPS. Additional TCCs could not be established previously because of limited voted funds. Funding from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA) was assisting with establishment of additional TCCs. There was provision of services to all victims, but not all victims required a case to be reported to SAPS and would only request TCC-services, which amounted to approximately 35%. Approximately 90% of all matters reported were on sexual offences. Between 2015/16 to 2019/2020, 169 025 victims had been assisted at TCCs. There had been a notable increase in matters reported at TCC sites between August and October 2020, where cases had increased from 2 376 to 3 282 which was an increase of 38%.
There had been challenges due to the current lockdown which affected the availability of service providers for park homes, the refurbishment of sites at health facilities and the procurement of equipment. Staff recruitment had taken place during this time, and 12 case managers and nine site coordinators had been appointed. For the 16 victim assistant officers, the recruitment process had commenced. Funding was required for additional sites to be rolled out.
DOJ&CD NSP on GBVF: Sexual Offences and Victim-Centric Justice
Adv Praise Kambula, Chief Director: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups, DOJ&CD), presented on the resources -- funding, support personnel and facilities -- required for the proper functioning of sexual offences courts.
Outlining progress on the Presidential Summit Declaration and the National Strategic Plan (NSP) requirements relating to sexual offences courts (SOCs), he said Section 55A of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related) Amendment Act, 2007, was promulgated into law in February to give statutory recognition to SOCs. The Minister had approved the regulations relating to SOCs, which offer a catalogue of victim support services to ensure the justice system is victim-centric. Parliament was now considering the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, which seeks, inter alia, to register all convicted sex offenders irrespective of the category of victims. Parliament was considering tightening bail and sentencing laws in GBVF cases.
There were a number of stakeholders responsible for the implementation of SOCs such as the DOJ, SAPS, the judiciary, the NPA and the DSD. One of the most important stakeholders was the court supporters, as this work could not be done without NGOs.
The regulations in the catalogue of services provide 12 key support services. These are information services for victims to navigate the system; court support services; accompaniment; court preparation; private waiting services; private consultation with the NPA; private testifying services by the DOJ&CD; intermediary services, anatomical dolls used for children testifying to demonstrate the abuse; disability centric services; and a restitution/impact statement service. A witness fee service, including travel and food allowances, was provided, and counselling services were provided outside court.
(For details on zero-based costing for the implementation regulations for SOCs, see slide 8).
The Department was in the process of upgrading courts which already had certain resources into SOCs, and the costing per court amounted to R300 000. The total costing for year one amounted to R5 806 000; R5 842 510 for year two; and R6 163 998 for year three.
The limitations being experienced were insufficient human resources – for example, intermediaries and court preparation officers. Currently, the Department had a capacity of 136 intermediaries and 36 ad hoc intermediaries. A resource audit was being conducted to determine the exact resource gaps. Infrastructural limitations experienced were related to some courthouses not having enough space to accommodate the SOC model, as set out in the regulations. Renovations for upgrading were often impossible in certain monumental court buildings.
SAJEI training of Magistrates on GBVF and Sexual Offences
Dr Gomolemo Moshoeu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), South African Judicial Education Institute, said the SAJEI had been conducting training on sexual offences and GBV since 2013. Some of the topics covered were pedophilia, grooming, child porn and judicial management of sexual offences cases.
The Institute had launched a human rights week for regional and district magistrates. Human rights week was a four-day training programme for regional and district magistrates which dealt with pertinent rights-related issues like sexual offences, gender stereotyping and GBV. The programme addressed HIV/TB and human rights, gender and HIV, HIV/TB and sexual offences, HIV as a factor for sentencing in sexual offences cases, confidentiality and disclosure of HIV/TB: relevance to sexual offences matters; and social context.
In October 2019, SAJEI had engaged training entities in the criminal justice sector with the aim of aligning its annual training plans where possible, and to discuss training on GBVF. The three sessions were attended by the SAJEI, the Justice College, the NPA, SAPS and Legal Aid. This was a work in progress.
In December 2019, the human rights programme covered the following topics: Gender stereotyping, women’s access to justice and the role of the judiciary, international and regional frameworks on GBV, sexual and reproductive health rights, unpacking judicial stereotyping in sexual and reproductive health and rights cases; and unpacking judicial stereotyping in GBV cases.
In June 2020, SAJEI had held a webinar on sexual offences attended by the regional magistrates. The topics included sexual offences court regulations, judicial management of sexual offences’ court rolls, and an update on sexual offences cases.
In July 2020, it had held a webinar on GBV and gender stereotypes for magistrates of the Durban cluster. The topics had included practical challenges and best practices of dealing with GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as GBV and gender stereotyping.
From 1 to 4 December, the SAJEI would be holding a virtual human rights week for regional and district magistrates. The topics listed on the programme include GBV, stereotyping in the court environment, and sexual violence.
Integrating the Criminal Justice Information Systems
Mr Nicholas Munyai, Information Technology (IT) Specialist, presented on the measures planned and taken to integrate the Criminal Justice Information Systems.
He said multiple government departments and entities were involved in the criminal justice system (CJS) in South Africa, and the diagram on slide 3 of the presentation depicted the integration of departments, as they shared data and information between their systems. Eight departments were connected to the Integrated Justice System (IJS) transversal hub to exchange information.
Key docket information recorded on the SAPS’s Investigation Case Dockets Management System (ICDMS) was electronically shared with downstream CJS stakeholders. More than 2.5 million cases were processed electronically from the SAPS docket to the NPA enrolment and DOJCD court proceedings.
He pointed out that a lot still needed to be done to ensure the full integration of the CJS.
SAPS’s systems across all nine provinces could exchange dockets with several IJS member departments. Electronic notifications were then sent from SAPS to Legal Aid requesting representation. Notifications were also sent to the Department of Social Development (DSD) regarding children who came into conflict with the law.
- The launch of a collaboration platform for the asset forfeiture unit (AFU) and the investigative directorate (ID).
- Legal Aid South Africa (LASA) had been involved in the stabilisation and operation of Electronic Legal Aid Administration (eLAA).
- The Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) court online project involved digital caseline court bundles for trial ready cases at the Johannesburg and Pretoria High Court.
SAPS Briefing on Pillar 3 of NSP on GBVF
Lt Gen Moeketsi Sempe, Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing, SAPS, said the conceptual framework involved the NSP, the Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP), and the SAPS integrated sexual offences and GBV action plan (see slide 7 for details).
The SAPS integrated sexual offences and GBV action plan was aligned to six focus areas:
1. Enhancing policy frameworks;
2. Training and development of members;
3. Enchancing accountability and organisational performance on GBV cases;
4. Prevention of GBV and sexual offences,
5. Responsive care and victim support;
6. Crime data analysis and research.
Enhancing policy frameworks dealt with ensuring implementation and compliance with the SAPS regulatory framework. Strategic partnerships would be strengthened with key stakeholders. Policies for reducing barriers to the reporting of GBV and sexual offences and domestic violence would be implemented.
Training and development of members dealt with the training of SAPS members on GBV-related programmes such as domestic violence, sexual offences, child protection and victim empowerment. The empowerment of SAPS members on human rights and policing was also included.
Enhancing accountability and organisational performance on GBV cases was focused on ensuring effective and efficient policing of GBV, sexual offences and domestic violence. It would strengthen key environments dealing with sexual offences, GBV and domestic violence cases. Community trust would be built in the SAPS through communication strategies and ensuring the coordination of GBV structures and other community structures at various levels.
Prevention of GBV and sexual offences would focus on the implementation of proactive measures to deal with GBV, sexual offences prevention and domestic violence. The hosting of GBV and sexual offences campaigns and public education programmes would also be done.
Responsive care and victim support would focus on ensuring the provisioning of effective, victim-friendly facilities and service which recognised protecting the rights of victims of GBV-related crimes. It was also focused on the promotion of the safety of first responders to cases of GBV, sexual offences and domestic violence. Community police forums (CPFs) would be engaged to gain community involvement and support. It would ensure the provisioning and availability of evidence collections kits (D1, D7 and DB) and proactive case docket management. Backlogs at forensic labs related to GBV, particularly sexual assault cases, would be cleared and DNA analysis capability at the Eastern Cape FSL would be established.
Crime data analysis and research would focus on evidence-based research on GBV sexual offences and domestic violence, and ensure that there was crime data collection and analysis on GBV, sexual offences and domestic violence.
Lt Gen Sempe described the progress made on interventions conducted to address barriers for access to services and information for victims of GBV.
Approval of a revised, costed action plan had been completed on 16 September 2019. The action plan addressed systemic barriers to services for implementation by divisions and components, and was monitored for implementation -- for example, addressing sign language interpretations.
A high level committee on GBV was established to implement the NSP and address systemic barriers, which was approved on 20 September 2020.
Guidelines were approved on 23 August 2019 and distributed to provinces, stations and clusters for implementation.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DeafSA (sign language interpretation services) was drafted, and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) was consulted. Currently, there was a non-formal partnership with DeafSA.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTI+) was developed and approved on 18 April 2019.
An SOP was distributed to all SAPS national, provincial, district/cluster and police stations through internal communication nodal points for implementation.
Capacity Building sessions with provincial role players were conducted between September 2019 and January 2020.
The domestic violence national instruction was reviewed to include:
• Mandatory reporting of a protection order to the supervisor/commander.
• The commander should proactively address management of the member.
• Introduction of user-friendly administrative forms.
The multi-year plan for victim friendly facilities and disability-friendly police stations would be developed and implemented by 31 March 2021.
(See slides 35 and 36 for details on the number of police stations with enhancements for physical disability).
The national instruction on victim empowerment instructs station management to make available, a victim friendly room (VFR), where a victim’s statement could be taken down in privacy and allow for the dignity of the victim to be protected. Where there was no designated VFR, station management were required to provide an alternative arrangement for this purpose, such as an available office.
Members were also able to assist victims at TCCs (NPA) and Khuseleka Centres (DSD), in consultation with multi-disciplined interdepartmental case management teams that included prosecutors, health workers and psycho-social services.
Lt Gen Sempe said challenges included buildings that could not be renovated due to being non-devolved – for example, declaration as a national heritage, or privately owned buildings -- or needed continuous negotiations to be made on enhancements or relocation. There were high capital costs of construction, which limited the number of buildings or renovations that could be made per year within the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Buildings with limited space may require relocation of premises, which could be a lengthy process.
There were training interventions to ensure professional and supportive management of sexual offences victims. A vulnerable groups learning programme (VGLP) would be developed and implemented by 31 March 2021. This was a two week programme addressing the handling of matters with members for all victims of crime, and where members of the public were elderly, had disabilities, were LGBTI+ or had mental health issues. The training of trainers and the pilot programme was conducted from 8 to 20 November.
Organisational development was conducting a work study investigation on the establishment GBV desks at police stations, taking into account functions, scope, levels of accountability and other incidental matters. This would be finalised by 31 March 2021.
Training on addressing access to services for vulnerable groups had been suspended due to CoVID-19 regulations, and was being gradually reinstated.
Referring to measures to ensure availability of rape kits, Lt Gen Sempe said orders had been placed for evidence kits from 16 October 2019 to 20 March 2020. All D1 adult evidence collection kits, D7 paediatric and sexual assault and DB swab reference system kits ordered had been received. (See slide 44 for quantities ordered and delivered and the values of quantities).
Orders were placed for evidence collection kits from 1 April 2020 to date. (See slide 45 for quantities ordered and delivered, the values of quantities and the delivery schedule for 2020/21).
A Cyber Crime entry level course was currently being developed as an intervention to support police officers in thoroughly investigating sexual offences. A specialised course for Serial and Electronic Crime Investigations (SECI) for detectives dealing with serial and child pornography investigations was also being developed. Debriefing sessions would be conducted for the wellbeing of members, and there would be designated specialised sexual offence courts enabling prosecutorial guided investigations.
All current vacant funded posts would be advertised and filled. There should be adequate training in child victim/witness statement taking for investigating officers and forensic social workers. Each family and child support (FCS) cluster should be staffed with a forensic social worker for effective service delivery. There was a need for Afrikaans-speaking forensic social workers in Gauteng, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. There was a need for Xhosa-speaking forensic social workers in the Western Cape. Assignment of forensic nurses should take place in all areas where there were no TCCs.
Progress made on eliminating DNA case backlogs
Lt Gen Sempe said the challenges experienced involved insufficient funding for the forensic science laboratories. An additional R250 million was allocated to the operational baseline budget. There was instability of leadership and management, and submissions of high volumes of DNA buccal samples, in line with the implementation of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act No. 37 of 2013, commonly known as the DNA Act.
Other challenges included the increasing workload and additional capacitation required to process all exhibits for analysis. There were challenges with the procurement of consumables and servicing of equipment to perform analysis. There was no health risk management contract for the vaccination of analysts. Load shedding, the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of internal skilled laboratory technicians to render services and the calibration of instruments/equipment also presented challenges in eliminating backlogs.
Progress on the implementation of the turnaround strategy
An additional R250 million had been allocated to the operational baseline budget. Eleven contracts had been awarded and 61 re-enlistment applications had been considered. (See slide 55 for more details on numbers of contracts and posts advertised, awarded and evaluated).
A task team had been established to benchmark and pilot mobile DNA laboratories. The Eastern Cape DNA laboratory contract was advertised for 14 days, and was under consideration.
Forensic facilities would be maintained according International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards to ensure value for money. The health risk management contract had been awarded, and currently personnel were being prioritised for medical surveillance and vaccinations, compliance inspection, and to ensure the fumigation of facilities was conducted. This would ensure that facilities dealing with sensitive evidence were not contaminated.
Measures to integrate criminal justice information systems
There were a number of corporate systems in place, such as the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), which would integrate its administration with the case administration system (CAS) or the investigation case docket management system (ICDMS). These integrations were under way. COVID-19 had presented challenges in the implementation of this, but it would be implemented now that the country was at Level 1 of the lockdown.
Ms P Kekana (ANC; Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies) said she appreciated the presentations and comprehensive report from the justice cluster. She said the Film and Publications Board (FPB) dealt with online GBV. In the next engagement, the DOJ should explain the challenges and cyber security issues happening online. Once one posted on the internet, it would remain there. This posed challenges when young people searched for employment.
Deputy Minister Jeffery said the National Assembly would pass the Cyber Crimes Bill, and this was on the agenda for the following week. It would deal with pornography and preventing intimate images from being circulated.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) welcomed all the presentations, saying they had been informative. She referred to the local magistrate’s court in Randfontein, and Mr Thomas Ngubeni, a public prosecutor at the court. She said he took the time to capacitate some SAPS members on what to do in relation to protests and picketing at the court, and to ensure that all perpetrators were held accountable. She said most people working within the space looked disgruntled and wanted to know what measures the NPA had in place for workers to uphold good ethics in the system. Some SAPS members were seen as being corrupt, but were still needed to protect people.
She asked how the community would know about the key support services, such as the support packages that included food and accommodation. She said awareness programmes should be implemented. The judicial dialogue of the magistrates should be publicised. She asked how credible and reliable the integrated justice system was. Were all SAPS capacitation units trained, and when could this be expected to take place? Were there GBV intervention teams at all police stations? If there was not a specific testing kit at a police station, could any kit be used for testing? Could the guidelines on GBV, and how they related to people with disabilities and the LGBTQIA+ community, be obtained at any police station? She asked how realistic the timeframe was for the implementation of ramps at police stations, given the budget cuts. She asked about satellite police stations, and said they needed to be in full use to combat GBVF. Why were there no alternatives to receiving testing kits from other suppliers if a particular supplier lacked the capacity to deliver? Could officers of a specific age be re-enlisted?
The Chairperson said other Members who had opted not to ask questions during the meeting, but had questions, should put them in writing and the secretariat would forward them to the Department. The Department would respond to the questions in writing.
Adv Smith said that there was an employment wellness programme at the NPA which was utilised for the debriefing of prosecutors, especially those who were exposed to traumatic cases. This programme had psychologists who could provide services when required. There was a performance management reward system, and the NPA was now working on team rewards to acknowledge good work.
Adv Kambula spoke on how communities could be sensitised, and said that this was a ministerial project. Each year the Minister had gone out to sensitise communities where sexual offences had taken place. There was a “Let’s Talk Justice” radio talk show which covered over 70 community radio stations that was live, multilingual and extremely interactive. This talk show dealt with the sexual offences model, and there were school campaigns where 64 676 learners had been educated about GBVF. Community imbizos and outreach programmes were also held. More than 15 million people were informed through this intervention. Rural communities were also visited. A list of this had been tabled in Parliament in September, and could be provided to the Chairperson. It was listed in the annual report tabled by the Minister.
Mr Munyai said the IJS was not one system, but was a multiple system that was connected through the IJS hub of member departments. Case management systems would continue to be modernised. During COVID-19, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) had used the IJS hub system to combat fraud. 2.3 million beneficiaries had been verified, using the IJS.
Lt Gen (Dr) Bongiwe Zulu, Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Development, SAPS, said investigators would go through a three-month crime detection programme, which would educate staff on how to go about the administrative processes before handing over to the prosecutor. 150 staff were undergoing this training. The programme would end on 11 December. The 150 staff members would then move on to the Family and Child Support (FCS) programme on 25 January 2021.
Lt Gen Sempe said each testing kit had its own purpose and function, and guidelines had been sent to police stations on how to deal with victims of GBV. If testing kits could not be found at a particular police station, the station commander would be held accountable. The 31 March 2021 target for the ramps and rails at police stations was feasible when it was conceptualised, but budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic could not be foreseen. The target for the remaining 223 police stations would not be finalised by the end of the financial year.
Satellite police stations by nature were not full-blown police stations, but were there to enhance community access. There were issues relating to budget and the availability of personnel with satellite police stations. A satellite police station in the Free State had been transformed into a police station.
Suppliers were rotated from time to time, as per Treasury regulations and instructions. A response would be sent in writing about who benefited from the contracts. The re-enlistment of members did take age into consideration, and the applicant should be between the ages of 49 and 60.
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said the Deputy Minister had indicated that the number of cases of GBVF reported was high, but convictions were fewer, and she asked how many of cases accounted for children. What percentage of cases involving children did not lead to convictions? In her constituency, two children’s cases did not get to court due to a lack of evidence. She asked what percentage of cases of sexual abuse and rape of children did not get to court. She complimented the work of the TCCs, saying that it was an internationally recognised model, but there were only 55 TCCs across the country. The TCC in her area was situated in Atlantis, and Swartland was quite far away. Some people could not afford to travel that far, or did not know where the TCC was located. She asked what other NGOs could assist in doing the work of the TCC.
She asked why there was such a huge backlog in DNA testing. Was this due to a lack of laboratories or specialists? She was pleased about the new disability-centric approach taken on matters of GBV. She wanted everyone to note that if a deaf child was sexually abused by a teacher in a school for the deaf, sometimes SAPS or the prosecutors used the teachers to act as interpreters. She would not encourage this, as the perpetrator and teacher could be friends and the victim could not express this. Someone from an outside organisation who was neutral was needed. Sometimes deaf children did not understand the interpreters used by the courts, and a judge would refuse to allow a deaf interpreter that was not on the court’s database. Intermediaries could be used for deaf children as well. There were so many deaf social auxiliary workers that could be used alongside interpreters.
She asked if sensory disabilities would be covered in the GBVF bills. Staff on the ground needed to understand the dynamics of this. She congratulated SAPS on working with NGOs to assist people with disabilities, but said she did not see any attempts to educate schools and school children on GBVF. She asked what the link between information services and SAPS was, and who gave the information to a victim when a case was reported.
Adv Smith said the positive comments on TCCs were appreciated. 57% of GBV cases involved children as victims. 52.4% of cases coming from TCCs that were finalised also had child victims. Children did receive priority, but this process should be improved. TCCs would be established in a way that struck a balance between rural and urban areas, and the Department would try to get as many sites as possible available that were close to FCS units and hospitals. He pointed out that Members needed to be mindful that this was dependent on where hospitals and clinics were situated. The NPA had provided extensive input on the Bills.
He commented that the point raised on interpreters was very valid, and said that particular knowledge was required on sign language to act as an interpreter, as the environment that the adult or child came from had to be taken into consideration. This system was a work in progress, and would be improved.
Adv Kambula said disability sensitisation workshops were held to sensitise officials on the types of disabilities and how to identify them, to appropriately accommodate victims. Personnel were trained to know that a disability did not mean a person was incompetent, but rather that it was an impairment. The person had to be treated with respect and dignity. The disability support service model was led by a blind director. The model would be gradually incorporated. The “Handy Hints” information guide would be distributed to court personnel to ensure that there was a disability-centric justice system.
Mr Munyai said the femicide dashboard had been completed and tested. The dashboard would go live in February 2021. “Court Online” had been developed by 1 August 2020. The pilot and infrastructure readiness now needed to be conducted.
Lt Gen Sempe said the presentation had indicated a plethora of reasons for the backlog. There was a lack of internal skilled laboratory technicians to render services and do the calibration of instruments. Schools were prioritised for outreach programmes through the schools’ safety programmes. There were 1 300 schools where these programmes had been launched, and there was a need to improve on this.
Ms J Hermans (ANC) said there was a greater need for TCCs across the country. She had visited the Atlantis TCC to which Ms Newhoudt-Druchen had referred, and was impressed by how the work was integrated there. She said tribute should be paid to those frontline workers. There were not enough shelters in the area or social work support for victims who left the TCCs. The TCCs should be linked, and those covering massive areas should have shelters in each ward for victims of GBV.
Adv Smith said the Department was working closely with civil society organisations to establish the availability of shelters before opening TCCs in an area, and the possibility of shelters being close by to TCCs. He said this issue was being considered.
Ms P Abraham (ANC) referred to the Omotose and Bushiri cases, and said she was proud of the justice system, since Omotose had spent three years in jail. She asked about DNA and the solution to the backlog challenges. What kind of education could be given on women killed in their homes? They had been woken up today to the news of infants in the Eastern Cape who had been brutally killed by their father. She said she was impressed by the police report.
Adv Smith said that CARA funding would run out in the financial year ending March 2021. The goal was to have five sites up and running by then, as this was the funding goal of the CARA funding business plan. Their aim was to have a sixth site for TCCs. Feedback was awaited from the Health Department, and this TCC would be established in Gauteng if approved.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) made comments in Zulu.
Lt Gen Sempe said there were corrupt SAPS members, and when they were found to be corrupt, they were fired. There was demonstrable evidence of this. There was a rural strategy and a traditional policing concept in place. Police had been deployed to assist at most tribal offices in the Eastern Cape. People residing in rural areas were prioritised. A mobile van was also sent out to communities.
Ms S Lucas (ANC, Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP) expressed concerns over service delivery issues.
Deputy Minister Jeffery responded that nobody should accept poor service delivery, but this could not be dealt with if it was not reported.
Adv Kambula said it was a challenge to ensure that staff treated victims of GBV with sensitivity at every service point. There was an integrated victim-centric strategy which was at the draft level at present, and involves all stakeholders, including civil society organisations. This would ensure that there were standards at every service point. The crime victims solution strategy was also in the process of development. This would help to collect data on crime victims and the support services which they received. This would eliminate secondary trauma.
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) said the Education Department should include education on GBV issues through early childhood development (ECD) centres.
Mr Munyai said the IJS member departments existed within the criminal justice system, and the aim was to modernise and integrate the system. This included the Departments of Home Affairs, the Police, the DOJ, the Office of the Chief Justice, Legal Aid, the NPA and Social Development. The Basic Education component was also linked closely to Social Development.
The Chairperson made brief closing remarks, and thanked all the officials for their input.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Integration of criminal justice information systems; functioning of sexual offences courts and TCCs; investigation and prosecution of GBV cases; status of DNA case backlogs 2
- Integration of criminal justice information systems; functioning of sexual offences courts and TCCs; investigation and prosecution of GBV cases; status of DNA case backlogs 1
Bilankulu, Ms NK
Abraham, Ms PN
Bebee, Ms LC
Hermans, Ms J
Hlengwa, Ms MD
Jeffery, Mr JH
Kekana, Ms PS
Khawula, Ms MS
Kiviet, Ms N
Lucas, Ms SE
Mamaregane, Ms ML
Mananiso, Ms JS
Mgweba, Ms T
Newhoudt-Druchen, Ms WS
Nkomo, Ms Z
Ntuli, Ms M M
Sihlwayi, Ms NN
Thembekwayo, Dr S
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