Abusers should be forced out of homes, not survivors, says Cele

Abusers should be forced to leave their homes, not those they hurt, Police Minister Bheki Cele said.

He presented the police’s adjusted budget to a mini-plenary of the National Assembly in a virtual sitting on Friday.

Cele dedicated a significant portion of his speech to gender-based violence.

“Far too often, women are being murdered by those they love and trust. Their children are not spared, nor are their unborn children. Their lives are ended in the most brutal way. Chairperson, I repeat, there are far too many women killed in South Africa, many by people known to them,” Cele said.

“The accelerating scourge of gender-based violence is affecting everyone, both young and old. We should all agree that this is a societal challenge that needs all of us to deal with it decisively. It cannot be police alone. I repeat gender-based violence is everybody’s responsibility, hence I also call on gender activists to work with existing structures to solidify the fight on crimes against women and children”.

He said during the previous financial year, expenditure of R184 million was incurred in the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units.

Furthermore, the police had awareness campaigns for vulnerable groups and procured various evidence collection kits of which some are directly linked to GBV.

He said in the current financial year, the same emphasis would be placed on FCS units with an additional R15 million to be prioritised towards the direct resourcing of these units in terms of goods and services, vehicle procurement and other equipment.

“FCS units continue to secure harsh sentences and multiple life imprisonments for GBV related cases,” Cele said.

According to Cele, there is progress in the capacitating of FCS units and the training of more females to work in these units, which is often the first port of call for many women who are victims of domestic violence.

“However this does not imply that GBV is a gender issue; we have dedicated men who are detectives in this environment and who are passionate and highly professional in executing their duties – the unit itself is headed by a male, Major General Linda,” Cele said.

To date, 312 of the 4971 trainee constables who completed their specialised training were identified for placement at the 185 FCS units across the country.

Cele said the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service monitored and evaluated SAPS’ implementation of GBV-related policies and legislation.

The department would embark on a virtual media campaign in August – Women’s Month – to help citizens understand the reporting process, what assistance was provided by the various entities within the criminal justice system and what to do if they were not satisfied with the response provided by the police.

The secretariat was also planning to roll out a programme in schools to educate pupils.

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

The police would also sign a service level agreement with the Department of Social Development to avail enough safe houses and social workers for victims of crime.

“Lastly on this subject honourable members, the tide must change on how we respond to GBV matters. The victims of GBV should not be the ones forced to flee their homes to seek places of safety,” Cele said.

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

Members were concerned about the level of gender-based violence.

EFF MP Mothusi Montwedi said the police were “incapable of investigating and bringing gender-based violence cases to justice”.

“Women do not have faith in the police,” he said.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said it wasn’t only a matter for the police alone, it was also a social problem.

“The criminal justice system is really failing the women and children of South Africa”.

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said he supported measures against GBV.

ANC MP Princess Faku said: “The men in our country declared war on our women”.

She said since the start of the lockdown the police received 87 000 complaints of gender-based violence.

Cele called on Meshoe to raise the matter in churches, as it occurred there too. He also asked that the issue not be politicised.

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