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Speech By Francois Beukman, Mp, Chairperson Of The Portfolio Committee On Police On 16 The Days Of Activism In Violence Against Women And Children -National Assembly

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 Debate

Eight practical measures to strengthen oversight over the SAPS in dealing with violence against women and children:

House Chairperson, Honourable Members and South Africans

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in Section 205 (1) states that the objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law.

The SAPS have a pivotal role to play to ensure that complaints dealing with violence against women and children are properly processed, investigated and court ready dockets are prepared.

In vision 2030 of the National Development Plan it envisages that people living in South Africa feel safe at home, at school and at work, and they enjoy a community life free of fear. Women walk freely in the streets and children play safely outside. The police service is well-resourced and professional, staffed by highly skilled officers who value their work, serve the community, safeguard lives and property without discrimination, protect the peaceful against violence, and respect the rights to equality and justice.

The ANC in the January 8 th Statement of 2017 highlighted the fact that we must do more to eradicate gender-based violence and abuse of women and children.

The latest crime statistics paints a stark reality that we face as a nation:

In the 2016/17 financial year, 3478 women and children were murdered, of whom 2639 were women, 574 boys and 265 girls.

One of the goals of the 16 Days campaign is to expand accountability beyond the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to include all government clusters and provinces:

Indeed the solution lies with all of us.

The SAPS have legal obligations to attend to the matters of gender violence in general and more specifically, domestic violence:

The National Development Plan on page 398 makes the following statement on the matter of domestic violence:

Domestic violence is a complex issue which should be addressed in a multi-faceted way. Education of both women and men should be undertaken with social partners and the private sector. The private sector has a very important role to play since work hours and productivity are negatively affected because of domestic violence. The effective implementation of the DVA requires adequate budgeting for which education and awareness training as well as training of police and justice officials.

House Chairperson

The lack of service delivery and compliance have been raised continuously over the past two decades by the departments mandated to oversee the compliance of members of SAPS to the DVA.

This raises indeed serious questions of the commitment of the past leadership of the SAPS in addressing and prioritising violence against women and children.

The function of monitoring the implementation of the DVA resides with the Civilian Secretariat of Police.The visits of CSP are aimed at identifying challenges with implementation of the DVA by police stations and to equip the police stations with information on the manner in which compliance and implementation can be improved focusing on the following areas:

Both SAPS and CSP have a legislative duty to report to Parliament on the implementation of the DVA. The Secretariat highlights issues of underreporting on non-compliance cases by the SAPS.

Command and control in the monitoring of the implementation of the DVA are crucial. The lack of consequences for SAPS members failing to comply with the requirements of various instruments is having a very negative effect on the realisation of the imperatives of the DVA as envisaged by the legislators that crafted the Act. The non-adherence to the legislative requirements of the DVA is denying justice to those who fall victim to domestic violence.

We are of the firm view that the Civilian Secretariat needs to start assessing the reasons for non-compliance with the DVA at all levels of the SAPS. At station level, the assessment needs to centre on the lack of consequences to members failing the necessary forms correctly and comprehensively.

Additionally, the research should focus on reasons for Station Commanders not checking the relevant registers for compliance. At cluster level, the Secretariat must assess the reasons for Cluster Commanders not inspecting the registers at their cluster stations and not addressing the deficiencies with the relevant Station Commanders. Lastly, at National Level, the Secretariat should assess the reasons for Provincial Commissioners not being held responsible for the failure of the management structures under their command and control in being accountable for the non-compliance to the DVA.

The Compliance Forum established between the SAPS and CSP at national and provincial level to coordinate the monitoring of compliance of the DVA could have the following benefits:

House Chairperson, the proof lies in the pudding, and SAPS and CSP must pull up their socks considerably to ensure that there is a massive turn-around in the compliance level of SAPS in terms of the DVA.

There is a vast array of SAPS National Instructions and Standing Orders that provides for minimum standards for the treatment of victims of crime, including the rights to respect and dignity, information and practical assistance, including practical assistance to people with special needs.

The SAPS Division of Management intervention must step up their efforts of improving quality assurance and interventions to improve performance at station and cluster level.

The campaign launched by the Minister of Police against gender-based violence in August 2017 is an important step to increase the ability of the SAPS to respond more timeously and effectively.

The Six-point includes:

(1) Treat all victims with respect and dignity and that they should be interviewed by a trained police official in a victim sensitive manner;
(2) Assist victims in a Victim Friendly Room (VFR) or an alternative room where the statement will be taken in private or in another location providing victim support services;
(3) Take or refer victims to a healthcare professional for a medical examination to obtain medical evidence, complete a medical report and provide healthcare to the victim;
(4) Ensure that the investigation is conducted by the Family Violence; Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit (FCS) or a detective with relevant training;
(5) Refer all victims to victim support services that are available in the precinct for legal, medical, social and psychological help; and to
(6) Pro-actively provide feedback to victims on the progress of their cases.

We have 1143 police stations in the Republic of South Africa.

Public representatives at the 3 spheres of government can play a pro-active role in ensuring that SAPS stations live up their duties in terms of the DVA Act and other relevant legislation.

MP's should visit the police stations in their allocated constituencies and engage with the station commander on compliance with the DVA.

In terms of Community Policing Forums, the NDP states that focus should be placed on strengthening the oversight functions of CPF's to hold local police management accountable to community needs. The Portfolio Committee on Police has requested the Civilian Secretariat to develop a funding model for CPF's and recommended that the organisational structure of the location of CPF's be reviewed.

CPF's should be at local level the driver to ensure that gender- based violence are prioritised and acted upon.

The National Planning Commission recommends that community participation in safety should be increased. "Civil society organisations and civic participation are essential elements of a safe and secure society. The Constitution provides for municipalities to be responsible for the creation of safe and healthy communities. This objective can be achieved through the establishment of community safety centres in communities where women, children and the youth are most vulnerable. Community policing forums should be strengthened to have effective oversight of police at precinct level. This requires a concerted programme of capacity building and training of community representatives on the community police forums. Special emphasis should be placed on the oversight functions of community police forums. "

The ANC believes that the professionalization of the SAPS through the implementation of the NDP recommendations is key to ensure better performance in responding to the scourge of violence against women and children.

There are eight (8) practical measures that should be prioritized to enable better performance.

(1) The management of dealing with complaints pertaining with violence against women and children by station commanders, cluster commanders should count a greater weight during performance evaluation and performance agreements should be amended accordingly.
(2) Compulsory consequence management for all SAPS members at all levels who do not adequately respond to complaints relating to violence against women and children.
(3) Ongoing training and capacity building programmes for SAPS first responders to deal with victims of domestic violence and sexual violence;
(4) More resources to be allocated to the SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units;
(5) Complainants who do get adequate service should immediately escalate complaints to shift commanders, station commanders, cluster commanders, provincial commanders and the National Commissioner, and copy the Civilian Secretariat on the complaints.
(6) The Civilian Secretariat of Police, including the Provincial Police Secretariats, should intensify their station audit roll-out and cooperate with NGO's and civil society to highlight stations that do not adhere to minimum standards of assistance to gender violence victims.
(7) Increasing awareness campaigns countrywide to educate learners at schools, churches and local communities about FCS-campaigns;
(8) Increase the detection rate of violent crimes committed against women and children and increase court ready dockets to increase prosecutions.

In closing:

I want to quote from a speech by President Nelson Mandela that he delivered on 9 August 1996 in Pretoria at a Women's Day event:

Violence against women is a serious and escalating evil in our society. It is both a part of the subordination of women and consequence of that inequality.

The statistics, even though they are partially known, are truly shocking. The fact that an estimated one in six South African women is being abused by their male partner is something that should be tolerated in any society. The pervasive violence against women has as one its most extreme expressions, the terrible phenomenon of serial murders. We must eradicate this violence against women.

Our anger should strengthen the resolve of all of us, inside and outside government, individuals, organisations and communities to join hands with the police in combating crime. Our ultimate victory in the war against criminals depends on the support and co-operation of every sector of society.

We know that the criminals, including those who abuse women, depend on people around them, women as well as men,

keeping silent even though they reject what they are doing. The time has come to speak up and expose the criminals.

Only through a partnership of police and those they serve will we truly achieve our goal."

I thank you.

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