Image via Adobe Stock
Image via Adobe Stock
Police Minister Bheki Cele, while providing an update on the levels of compliance to the lockdown, said the number of domestic violence cases throughout the country has decreased dramatically compared to this time last year.
Cele, while reporting various crime statistics, said that rape cases, in particular, are down by over 80% compared to this time last year.
Cele explained that regarding domestic violence, the department refers to incidents such as sexual assault, rape, pointing of a firearm, murder, attempted murder, assault and assault GBH, kidnapping and in such instances, the victim and suspect usually have or had a relationship.
“As I have mentioned before, some of the suspects in such cases are uncles, exes, wives and girlfriends, husbands, fathers, partners, [and] siblings,” said Cele.
“If we compare the period 27 March to 21 May 2019 with the lockdown period from 27 March to 19 May 2020, there is a sharp decrease from 21 033 in 2019, to 6 651 cases of domestic violence during the lockdown, giving us a percentage decrease of 68,4%,” he said.
Cele said the numbers are in reference to reported cases.
Cele also praised two recent sentences handed down to rapists. A 66-year old Cape Town man, Herman Harker, was handed 15 life sentences plus 30 years for rape and abduction.
A former police captain was also sentenced after being found guilty of raping his then 10-year old granddaughter 18 years ago.
Cele said he has noted recent media reports claiming that gender-based violence is on the increase.
“During the week one report even claimed that GBV cases had gone up by 500% during the lockdown,” he said.
“While not undermining the gravity of the scourge of GBV in the country, it is important to clarify that this increase is actually in relation to the number of distressed calls made to the GBV Command Centre, and not necessarily reported cases,” he said.
Cele explained that when he refers to gender-based violence, it covers all crimes against women and children as well as the LGBTQI community.
“For instance, if a woman walking to the shops is mugged and robbed at gunpoint of her personal belongings by a random suspect, that incident is recorded as a crime against a woman and therefore falls under GBV. Therefore, for purposes of measuring the impact of the lockdown on homes and families, we use cases of domestic violence,” he explained.
Cele urged victims to report to the police when experiencing any form of assault.
“We urge neighbours who are often aware of or have reason to suspect violent domestic disruptions, to alert the police. Friends, relatives or someone within the shared residence may also alert the police about the abuse on behalf of the victim,” he said.
“As far as possible, victims of domestic violence are reminded that they may approach the courts for a protection order,” he added.
Cele explained that the current situation with the COVID-19 lockdown makes it particularly necessary for people to contact the police telephonically, as movement is limited. As an alternative, the SAPS Emergency Number, 10111 can be called in an emergency including when a crime is in progress.
This is for urgent intervention by the police to disrupt further commission of the crime. In areas where there are no 10111 call centres, calls are diverted to the police station closest to the caller.
Callers that want to remain anonymous may contact SAPS Crime Stop Number 08600 10111 or send a tip-off via MySAPS App which can be downloaded on Android and iPhone.