“Only 8% of rapists brought to court are actually convicted” – MRC

The Medical Research Council’s study casts shame on South Africa, and its inability to protect the victims

The Medical Research Council have compiled a dossier investigating sex crimes across South Africa. Like most of our criminal statistics, the figures regarding convictions for rapists are a grim read.

Their report on behalf of the NPA – titled ‘Rape Justice in South Africa’ – revealed a shocking lack of justice for the victims of rape. Of the 3,952 cases they studied, just 340 ended in a guilty verdict and a conviction: that amounts to a meagre 8%.

The investigation hasn’t just highlighted a problem with the process of justice itself though. Intentionally or otherwise, it has genuinely shown police action regarding this crime to be truly incompetent.

How police are failing rape victims

  • Researchers had found that in 23% of cases in which there was no arrest, the perpetrator had been identified and the victim wanted to proceed with the case.
  • Around 80% of transcripts for the court cases were ‘unattainable’, as most were missing or destroyed.
  • In cases of child-rape, a shocking 33.8% of evidence kits were not sent for further lab analysis.
  • In 50% of cases in which there were witnesses, no witness statements were taken
  • No witness statements were taken in HALF of the incidents featuring a witness

Convictions for rapists remain toothless

Here’s a sorry state of affairs. If you’re lucky enough to be one of those 8 per-centers who gets to see justice served via a conviction of your rapist, there is still no guarantee that person will be locked behind bars.

The minimum conviction for rape is a 10-year jail term. However, according to Rachel Jewkes (the Medical Research Council’s executive scientist for research strategy), sentencing protocol is being completely ignored in favour of a ‘suspended sentence’:

“What’s shocking is that whereas 247 perpetrators were imprisoned, 68 of those convicted received suspended sentences. In Gauteng 36% of adults convicted for rape received a suspended sentence, while in the Free State 20% of adults received suspended sentences. We cannot understand how this is possible.”

Ignore Crime Stats: Rape is not happening ‘less often’

Last week, the Crime Stats for 2016/17 were released. They showed a 4% decrease in incidents of rape. As we’ve previously suggested here, take that with a pinch of salt.

Just look at the conviction rate. Look at the let-downs these victims face on a regular basis. Look at the fact that a rapist is known to their prey 64% of the time. These cases aren’t dropping. They’re just not being reported by the exasperated, defeated victims.