SAPS & CSPS on implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, Crime statistics focused on GBVF, Roll-out and implementation of GBV Desk at Police; with Minister and Deputy Minister

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25 May 2022
Chairperson: Ms T Joemat-Pettersson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the Committee met with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) to be briefed on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act.

The SAPS presentation focused on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act for the period 1 March to 30 September 2021. This included a bi-annual report on the departmental actions against members per province, SAPS members as alleged domestic violence perpetrators, and SAPS members as victims of domestic violence. In terms of Section 18(5) of the Domestic Violence Act, the National Commissioner of the SAPS must, every six months, submit a report to Parliament regarding the number and particulars of complaints received against its members, disciplinary proceedings instituted as a result thereof and the decisions emanating from such proceedings; and steps taken as a result of recommendations made by the CSPS.

SAPS indicated that gender-based violence (GBV) desks had been established at all police stations by 31 March 2022. However, depending on the space and availability of facilities, some police stations may not have a physical GBV desk, but there would be a dedicated officer able to support victims as they came through.

The SAPS had an additional R100 million budget that had been allocated to GBV-related matters.

The CSPS emphasised that there were gaps in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act at the police station level. This was shown by the high number of administrative non-compliance and increasing numbers of operational non-compliances. They said domestic violence continues to be amongst the highly reported crimes in the country with a total of 21 839 cases reported during thus reporting period, with GP recording the highest number of cases with 15 723. An inference can be made that an average of 2621 DV cases were reported in GP alone on a monthly basis during the six-month period. GP and WC consistently have the highest DV rate in the country

A Member asked whether the Community Policing Forums and Neighbourhood Watches were assisting the SAPS in the fight against GBV. Despite all of the interventions, there had been an increase in GBV incidents. A Member questioned what should be done differently. The SAPS was also asked how it planned to improve the availability of sign language interpreters at police stations. Members were concerned the number of complaints per province was too high, especially in the Western Cape and Free State

Meeting report

South African Police Service (SAPS) on implementation of Domestic Violence Act

Maj Gen Thokozani Mathonsi, Division: Visible Policing and Operations, said that the presentation was focused on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act for the period 1 March 2021 to 30 September 2021. The Domestic Violence Bi-Annual Report (1 March – 30 September 2021) included statistics for the finalisation of complaints and the number and nature of complaints for this period.

In terms of Section 18(5) of the Domestic Violence Act, the National Commissioner of the SAPS must, every six months, submit a report to Parliament regarding: Number and particulars of complaints received against its members, disciplinary proceedings instituted as a result thereof and the decisions emanating from such proceedings; and steps taken as a result of recommendations made by the CSPS.

The report showed there were eight complaints finalised over the reporting period. Most complaints related to failure to complete SAPS 508(a) and 508(b) and failure to open a case. Most complaints were from the Western Cape. Most SAPS members identified as alleged domestic violence perpetrators came from the Western Cape as did the stations at which members were identified as alleged DV perpetrators. Most SAPS members identified as victims of DV came from the Western Cape. The Western Cape had the highest number of firearms seized from SAPS members and members not issued with official firearms.


  • Police stations with limited space for the erection of victim-friendly rooms;
  • Buildings that could not be renovated due to being non-devolved (e.g., declaration as a national heritage, privately owned building, etc);
  • Cost of construction may limit the number of buildings or renovations that could be made, per year; and
  • There was no training of SAPS members from 1 April 30 September 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions and protocols. 

Recommendations improving implementation of DVA

  • Continuous compliance inspections and capacity building of members
  • Prioritise the training of SAPS members as first responders
  • Continue to ensure consequence management for non-compliance.
  • Intensify public education and awareness campaigns
  • Strengthen the functionality of provincial fora with all relevant stakeholders including civilian societies

Implementation of gender-based violence (GBV) desks

GBV desks were established in all police stations by 31 March. None of the police stations were the same in terms of their size and availability of facilities, therefore in some stations that were reported to have GBV Desks, this may not have meant that there was a physical desk, but that there was a dedicated resource that would support all GBV-related matters -- there would be a member who was dedicated to support those victims as they came through.

GBV budget 2022/23

A total budget of R100 million had been allocated to GBV-related matters. The budget would focus on the capacitation of family violence, child protection and sexual offences (FCS) units, victim-friendly facilities, training of frontline officers and FCS members, community awareness and crime dialogues, inspections and compliance assessments, and support for national campaigns.

(See presentation for detail.)


Mr M Shaik Emam (NFP) asked what criteria were used to recruit police officers that dealt specifically with domestic violence. He observed that there was training, but the police officers should also have the necessary skills. Some of them needed specific training, for example, in the field of social work and psychology so that they were able to understand dysfunctional families etc, and to ensure that they were fully equipped to deal with the challenges that they faced on the ground, particularly with domestic violence. He recalled that he had once suggested that some of these subjects should be introduced at schools and at the curriculum level, so that when potential police officers completed matric then they could specialise in these particular fields.

He asked whether the schools' campaign should rather not be a coordinated effort with other relevant departments and stakeholders. He asked whether the Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and neighbourhood watches (NHWs) really helped the SAPS in the fight against domestic violence and gender-based violence (GBV). It seemed that they were only an avenue of communication, yet there was a rise in GBV cases in the country. He expressed concern that these cases were only known once the damage was already done. With all of the interventions, there was still a rise in GBV cases, and he questioned what should be done differently. He said that it was important that there was a coordinated effort to prevent GBV by identifying the problem areas before it was too late.

Mr O Terblanche (DA) said that the SAPS presentation had been very informative. He asked that the SAPS provide more information on the GBV desks and victim-friendly rooms, particularly because it was said that a GBV desk may not be a physical desk. He asked for clarity on what was meant by a “dedicated resource” and how was it available, especially after hours and in rural areas.

He observed that 89 SAPS members had had departmental action taken against them, and asked if these convictions were for criminal cases and what had happened to those members. He agreed that the inspections were important to ensure compliance -- who conducted the inspections and at what level were these inspections done? He asked for information on the top 30 GBV hotspots, if this was on a national or provincial basis, and how it was determined.

He asked what plan the supply chain management was working on, in terms of the 141 police stations that were using alternative rooms as victim-friendly rooms.

Ms G Marekwa (ANC) said that was heart-warming to receive the presentation indicating the steps that SAPS was taking to address the issues as mandated by the Committee. However, the number of complaints per province was too high, especially in the Western Cape and Free State. She referred to the cases that had been reported against SAPS members as alleged domestic violence perpetrators, and asked whether the SAPS looked into the environment where the alleged SAPS members stayed, and whether the counselling also included the family that the alleged SAPS member stayed with. She suggested that the SAPS should provide counselling not only to the alleged SAPS member, but also to the immediate family, as they may also be affected. This should also be applied to those SAPS members who were victims of domestic violence. The environment where the SAPS members stayed might have a big influence on their behaviour and might affect them psychologically, so counselling should be provided to the SAPS members and their immediate families.

She was pleased that GBV desks had been established at all police stations. She suggested that the SAPS should consider having peer counselling, especially in instances when its members were going through personal challenges. There should also be continuous debriefing with SAPS members, because they attended to serious crime scenes in the communities and had to be brave to do what they were expected to do on a daily basis, and it may still affect them when they went home. The SAPS members must be taken care of to ensure that they were able to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

Mr H Shembeni (EFF) concurred with Ms Marekwa’s comments about the counselling of SAPS members that worked in stressful conditions. He said that the SAPS members must be taught that they were not prosecutors, judges or magistrates when a victim came forward to report GBV. It was important that the SAPS members listened to what had happened when a victim wanted to open a case. He asked how many GBV desks had been established, because according to the information heard during a Standing Committee on Appropriations meeting on 20 May, it was suggested that the GBV desks were either not established or not functional, despite the report of the SAPS.

On the SAPS members that were alleged domestic violence perpetrators and were still undergoing trials, he asked where the alleged members were placed, and what the SAPS did while waiting for the outcome of the trials. He asked how many domestic violence cases involved one SAPS member against another, where both the victim and perpetrator were SAPS members.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) referred to the departmental action against SAPS members, and observed that some members were given verbal warnings and, in some cases, what was reported was deemed as “not serious.” He asked that SAPS define and provide an example of what “serious” was, because when a person reported a matter to SAPS, to them it was serious. How did the SAPS come to the conclusion whether a matter was serious or not?

On the GBV budget allocation, he asked what determined how much each province was allocated. In terms of the training, he asked whether SAPS had guiding principles or a selection process when selecting members for specific training on domestic violence. He asked how SAPS ensured that those who were selected were not perpetrators of domestic violence themselves.

He observed that in the past few years, there had been an increase in domestic violence incidents during the "16 Days of Activism" campaign. He asked if this observation was correct and if yes, what was being done about it. He asked if there was any meaning to the “16 Days.” He was of the opinion that since the number of GBV incidences was increasing, perhaps the number of days to campaign against GBV should increase.

SAPS' response

Gen Fannie Masemola, SAPS National Commissioner, said that the GBV desks were there as a frontline service. When members of the public approach the Community Service Centre (CSC), they should be able to identify the GBV desk and not need to stand in the normal queue for assistance. The victim friendly rooms were the rooms where GBV-related statements were taken, and were located either inside the police station or in an outside building, where the victims were assisted.

When the national strategic plan on gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) was established, the relevant departments came together to establish a determinant as to where the most GBV-related incidents were reported. It was agreed that the top 30 hotspot stations would be identified and prioritised to fight against GBV in those specific stations in an integrated manner. This was not to say that the rest of the country's police stations were left out, but these hotspot stations encountered a lot of GBV cases. One of the contributing factors was alcohol; for example, the Orange Farm police station was located in an area where there were too many liquor outlets. The SAPS, together with liquor boards, would embark on activities to see how it could reduce the number of liquor outlets.

In the previous financial year, the SAPS was in the process of establishing the GBV desks. All provinces had indicated that the GBV desks were established, but the Visible Policing division and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) were currently doing an audit as to what was on the ground to verify and ensure that all provinces had established GBV desks in all the police stations.

In response to Rev Meshoe, Gen Masemola said that what was reported in the SAPS presentation was prescribed in terms of the law. In respect of where SAPS members had failed to do certain things, this was unrelated to the GBV budget. The GBV budget allocation per province was based on how many GBV incidents happened in a specific province, which was why the allocation differed.

Regarding the 16 Days of Activism, he said government had dedicated 16 days in a year to focus on GBV in an integrated manner, but the SAPS did its work 365 days a year.

Lt Gen Dineo Ntshiea, Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Management, said that the SAPS members who worked in the domestic violence environment were recruited as normal police officers who must comply with all of the requirements and follow all the steps in the SAPS recruitment strategy. The first requirement was to have a matric, and all recruits were subjected to a psychometric assessment; the psychometric assessments were important to determine whether they were fit to become police officers or not. All police officers were subjected to a psychometric test and an integrity test. If they did not meet the requirements of these tests they did not get a space in the SAPS -- they were further subjected to a medical assessment and thereafter underwent training. When the recruits completed training as competent police officers, they were deployed to different police stations. Some members chose to work in the domestic violence environment, and other members worked in other environments.

She said the SAPS offered employee health and wellness (EHW) services to all of its members, including their family members. In response to Ms Marekwa’s question, Gen Ntshiea said she would verify whether the families of the SAPS members that were victims or alleged domestic violence perpetrators also received counselling -- if not, it meant that the SAPS should strengthen and extend its support to the families of SAPS members. The SAPS EHW services had proactive as well as reactive programmes.

She agreed with the suggestion that the SAPS should strengthen its peer counselling, and that there should be continuous debriefing. The continuous debriefing was a standing agenda item on all the EHW programmes -- the SAPS members must be debriefed after every incident. There were only 621 professionals in the EHW services countrywide that serviced an establishment of 180 000 members. The SAPS were working towards increasing this capacity because there was a high demand for improving the EHW services rendered to the SAPS members. The EHW professionals were also encouraged not to wait in their offices for a commander to refer a member to them, but to go out and check the occurrence book entries to see if any members required EHW services. Some of the members were not eager to go to the EHW professionals, so the EHW professionals should be encouraged to approach the members.

Lt Gen (Dr) Bongiwe Zulu, Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Development, said that the learning programme that covered domestic violence was very strong in explaining the legislative, policies and directives that guided how the police should address the issues around domestic violence. The police officers were also trained to understand the social and psychological context of domestic violence. This further included directives on how the police officers should attend to domestic violence complaints and support victims, as well as their role as police officers. There was also a module that focused on the failure to comply with the Domestic Violence Act that addressed the repercussions when police officers did not comply in terms of what was expected of them.

On the selection process for its trainers, the SAPS had a standing operation procedure that was crafted to identify competent trainers. Similar to the recruitment at entry level, the police officers that applied to be trainers followed a process where they were interviewed and screened.

Maj Gen Senobia Hankins, Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management, said that the 141 stations that must still receive victim friendly facilities were all non-devolved facilities. The SAPS had received permission from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) to execute the projects. The placement of the victim-friendly facilities was contained in the SAPS infrastructure development plan, from 2020 to 2025, and for this financial year, the target was to finalise 20 facilities. The following financial year it would be 60, the financial year thereafter it would be 52, with the remaining two in the last financial year of that timeframe. The victim-friendly facility was a park home structure which was designed in line with the required standards, and would have private counselling rooms, overnight accommodation, ablution facilities and office space for the SAPS members. It would also have furniture and toiletries for the victims. The park home was connected to the basic services at the police station so that water and electricity were connected.

Lt Gen Michael Motlhala, Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing and Operations, said that the schools’ campaign was a coordinated effort with the relevant government departments and civil society. In terms of whether the CPFs and NHWs assisted in the fight against GBV, he replied that the President had given a directive to re-establish the CPFs, which the SAPS was currently undertaking to ensure that it repositioned them at all police stations to assist in the fight against crime.

In terms of the training of members that worked with domestic violence, the SAPS was working very closely with its human resource (HR) development to place these members, preferably females, considering that most victims were women and children. Before members became trainers, they were profiled and interviewed.

In terms of what could be done differently to address GBV, he said that one of the most important steps, as instructed by the Minister, was for the SAPS to have the additional allocation of the GBV budget that was allocated per province. It was also critical for SAPS and other service providers to consult with the victims of crime on a continuous basis, so that the SAPS could be directed on what type of service was expected. SAPS also consulted with other government departments and stakeholders to assess what type of services were needed. SAPS was intensifying its compliance inspections, especially at the station level, as well as strengthening the command and control.

The SAPS had targeted all police stations in the establishment of GBV desks and victim-friendly rooms, including police stations in the rural communities. In terms of compliance inspections, the SAPS had inspections through its Inspectorate Division; in Visible Policing and Operations, there were announced and unannounced compliance inspections, especially at those stations where there were a high number of GBV-related cases, to ensure that it intensified compliance. The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) did oversight of the compliance inspections.

In terms of what happens to those SAPS members who were alleged perpetrators of domestic violence, he said that depending on the seriousness of the incident, if the member was not suspended then the member would be removed from any interaction with the clients.  

Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, said that for the SAPS to continue making inroads, it would need the support of the Committee and the country in general.

Minister’s comments

General Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, said that these meetings were important, particularly when the SAPS implemented the suggestions that were made. For instance, the GBV desks had been implemented because of such suggestions. He referred to the statistics of the last quarter -- October, November and December -- during which 11 000 women were raped in three months and exactly 50% of them were raped in their own homes by the people that were supposed to be protecting them, such as their fathers, step-fathers, uncles, boyfriends and husbands. This was a role that should go beyond the police. He said that the additional R100 million GBV budget was also used to improve the relationship between the police and the communities. The communities, especially the families, would really have to help the police take these matters forward.

He gave an example of a young woman who had been seriously abused and assaulted by her boyfriend. She had gone to the Mamelodi police station where she was not attended to, and then went to Silverton police station. The perpetrator was arrested and then released. He said that the responsible SAPS officer was disciplined by the SAPS. After speaking to the young lady, it was discovered that she was no longer staying at home because her mother had put pressure on her to withdraw the case against the perpetrator. He said that if families were not assisting the police to play the role that they were supposed to, then the SAPS had a long way to walk in trying to deal with these matters.

He urged the Committee to assist the SAPS, because the SAPS was suffering from issues of parole and bail. A suspect who allegedly shot and killed six people in Khayelitsha had been released on R800 bail, and this had been his fifth bail of serious cases such as attempted murder and aggravated robbery. He asked that the Committee assists in involving other relevant departments, because the SAPS did not know what to do when these suspects were released on bail. These involved serious matters such as the rape and assault of women.

He recalled that he had received a phone call from a lady in Durban who was at a police station and complained that she was not attended to at 2am in the morning. He had driven to the police station and called all the relevant commissioners, the perpetrator was arrested and the lady was assisted -- but two days later the lady had insisted that the case be withdrawn. He said that there was a pile of cases that were withdrawn after the work had been done. He urged that everyone should be part of the effort to fight against GBV -- it could not be only the law enforcement alone.

Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) on implementation of Domestic Violence Act

Ms Ayanda Xongwana, Deputy Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, CSPS, said that the presentation covered the period from April to September 2021 of the work that had been done by the CSPS in monitoring the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act.   

In fulfilling its mandate, the CSPS together with the Provincial Secretariats conducts quality assessments on DVA compliance and identifies problem areas for intervention in order to improve the service rendered by the SAPS.

During this reporting period, a total of 460 police station oversight visits were conducted and this number included special focus on police stations that are located in the national and provincial top 30 high crime areas.

Domestic violence continues to be amongst the highly reported crimes in the country with a total of 21 839 cases reported during thus reporting period, with GP recording the highest number of cases with 15 723.

An inference can be made that an average of 2621 DV cases were reported in GP alone on a monthly basis during the six-month period.

GP and WC consistently have the highest DV rate in the country, and this can also be seen in other crime categories as reflected in the SAPS crime statistics.

Total number of cases closed as undetected has continued to climb over the years.

-Out of the 21939 reported cases at the 460 police stations; 2752 (12.5%) of the cases were closed as undetected

-Out of the cases closed as undetected, 170 (0.77%) were closed as unfounded (false reporting of cases)

Non-compliance by SAPS members

The CSPS measured the level of non-compliance by SAPS through non-compliance cases reported to the CSPS and provincial secretariats, analysis of consolidated returns of non-compliance cases, and findings from police station oversight visits.

There were gaps in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act at the police station level, which was shown by the high number of administrative non-compliances and the increasing number of operational non-compliances.

Management of non-compliance by SAPS

There was an improvement in the management of non-compliance by members, as disciplinary proceedings were instituted against all members who failed to comply.

Members as offenders of domestic violence according to station visits

It was a concern that there were some cases where no disciplinary proceedings were instituted against members who committed acts of domestic violence. It was not clear whether the Section 102 inquiries were conducted for members whose firearms had been seized.

Domestic Violence Act implementation: inspections

It was found that commanders within police stations were not fully conversant with the contents of the Domestic Violence Act and national instructions, so in some instances, inspections were conducted yet mistakes were not identified for corrections.


  • Local multi-sectoral engagements, forums and relations should be strengthened to improve referral systems and response.
  • The SAPS should put in place stringent measures on access to firearms for members whose firearms have been seized for being offenders of domestic violence.
  • In line with the SAPS disciplinary regulations, all members that are offenders of domestic violence should be subjected to disciplinary proceedings.
  • Section 102 inquiries should be conducted for all members whose firearms have been seized in line with the FCA.
  • Awareness campaigns should also include education on the repercussions of false reporting as state resources are wasted in these cases.
  • A refresher training course on DVA should be provided to Station Commanders in order to strengthen compliance and supervision.


Mr Terblanche said he had not received a response to the question about the 89 SAPS members who had departmental action taken against them. It appeared that the SAPS had a soft-handed approach to how it dealt with the non-compliance of its members. It was worrying that there were inspections on the registers, but apparently, no appropriate action was taken to ensure that the mistakes were rectified. He asked what would be done to rectify this.

Mr Shembeni asked what measures were in place to improve the availability of sign language interpreters at police stations. What steps were taken against the people who were found to make false allegations? He said these tendencies should be prevented, because the SAPS would be using their resources for no apparent reason instead of attending to serious cases.

CSPS's response

Mr Takalani Ramaru, Acting Secretary for Police, said that once the CSPS identified issues where mistakes were not rectified, it made recommendations to SAPS for disciplinary steps to be taken. It was then up to the SAPS to ensure that the recommendations were implemented. In cases where the SAPS did its own internal investigation and realised that a member was not in the wrong, the SAPS would then refer to the CSPS to apply for an exemption for that member to not be disciplined.

When the CSPS identified police stations that did not have access to sign language interpreters, it made recommendations for SAPS to source interpreters, and there seemed to be a huge stride in resolving this matter. 52% of police stations had access to sign language interpreters.

He said that the CSPS conducted domestic violence campaigns in the communities, and one of the focus areas was the matter of false reporting. It was emphasised that the members of communities should understand that false reporting was an abuse of resources -- that when the police had to rush to attend to false allegations, then it denied someone who honestly needed that service.

Lt Gen Motlhala clarified that it was 59 members (not 89) members that had had departmental actions taken against them. These were departmental cases that were handled through the SAPS internal processes.

He said that the SAPS focused on all categories of vulnerable groups, including the deaf community. The SAPS had a Memorandum of Understanding with DeafSA, which was making its services available to the police stations. This also included the training of SAPS members during their shifts, to address the challenge of the unavailability of sign language interpreters. In this way, the SAPS members, especially those that were strategically deployed in the victim-friendly facilities and GBV desks, were also trained as sign language interpreters.

Deputy Minister Mathale added that DeafSA had made proposals to SAPS which would assist it in accessing sign language interpretation, especially in areas where there were no available interpreters. The SAPS management was engaging with DeafSA on the proposal of a technological gadget that could assist the SAPS in addressing these shortcomings.

Gen Masemola agreed that the SAPS were interfacing with DeafSA. There was a gadget that the SAPS were intending to procure, especially for the top 30 GBV stations as a start, which would then be rolled out to other stations.

Closing remarks

Minister Cele agreed that the SAPS were trying to work harder on the access to interpretation services, especially to assist vulnerable groups. He said that technology could not replace in-person sign language interpretation. The SAPS would combine the technological intervention in addition to the assistance from the DeafSA interpreters and the sign language training for police members. 

He said that the utilisation of the CSPS by the SAPS was improving; the Ministry and SAPS would work with the CSPS in the monitoring of the items on the budget and its targets.

Adoption of minutes

The Committee considered and adopted its minutes of 18 May 2022.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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