South Africa

Bheki Cele claims no shortage of rape kits, says EFF weaponises GBV

Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the crime statistics on Friday 19 February, highlighting once more the dire struggle we still face as a South African society to overcome gender-based violence as the shortage of rape kits continues.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) made a number of claims in the week preceding the official release of the crime statistics. According to the EFF, South Africa had recorded over 100 rape cases a day.

More disturbingly, the party claimed that more than 20 000 victims did not receive rape kits since July 2020. If true, this would make prosecution of perpetrators next to impossible.

Shortage of rape kits in South Africa

Majority of police stations don’t have rape kits

The EFF took to Twitter on 17 February, publishing the claims. According to the statement, the Police minister’s failure to procure rape kits meant that 76% of police stations did not have rape kits available. 

While the EFF statement doesn’t provide a source for these claims, it’s worth noting that the figure of 76% of police stations not having rape kits was reported back in 2019 due to problems with procurement by the Police. 

In his response on Friday, however, the Police minister took aim at the EFF for trying to weaponise South Africa’s GBV epidemic politically.

“Trying to score cheap political points using the thousands of ordeal of rape victims and survivors is just disgusting, to say the least. This is just not true.”

It will be worth watching the EFF to see if they do, in fact, double down and confront the minister once again about their claims and force the Police into a more comprehensive response by providing additional information.

Cele blamed corruption for shortage

As it stands, the sad reality is once again that the scourge of GBV violence continues to destroy lives with no end or even improvement in sight. TheSouthAfrican reported in August 2019 that police stations are unequipped to deal with rape cases.

“Only 10% of police stations in [the Free State] have the necessary tools to collect evidence from an adult rape victim, and shockingly, just 2.7% of their stations have the kit required to gather forensic data from child victims”.

Tom Head for TheSouthAfrican.com

Three months later, Cele addressed the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) conference in Durban and blamed the crippling shortage of rape kits at police stations on corruption within the South African Police Service.

Increase in crime linked to alcohol sales

One thing that was clear from the stats is that the final quarter of 2020, which coincided with the lifting of the alcohol restrictions, saw a 6.6% increase in murder. Additionally, during the period, 50 120 cases of assault were opened.

“Just over 50 120 cases of assault were opened with the police in the three months of reporting. The noticeable areas of occurrence are at the home of the victim or perpetrators, public places or liquor outlets.”

The stats seem to reflect a police service that is short of answers and unable to proactively find solutions to the problems which are making life in South Africa so unsafe.

Now read: GBV, murder and assault increase during final stretch of 2020

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