CAPE TOWN– South African Police Minister Bheki Cele says while all crimes are a priority, the police will look at strengthening their hand against criminals who target vulnerable groups, including women and children.

Speaking when he tabled his department’s Budget Vote in Parliament here Tuesday, he said there are increasing concerns among many sectors of society, especially on social media, in relation to girls being abducted and going missing, while many women lose their lives at the hands of their intimate partners.

This implies that crimes against women and children and vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people with disabilities, people with albinism and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people will be treated as priority crimes,” Cele said.

The scourge of violence against these groups cannot and will not be tolerated and civil society and communities must stand as one together with the police to root out these crimes.”

He said he has irected the police to address the incidents of drug and substance abuse, which has also been identified as a driver of crimes against women and children and vulnerable groups.

With 2018/19 being the Year of Women, Children and Vulnerable Groups as victims of crime, Cele said the work of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Investigation Service of the police becomes extraordinarily important.

There are currently 183 FCS units, which creates a specialist investigative environment to deal with gender-based violent crimes including sexual offences, with a focus on serial rape-related cases, child pornography and crimes facilitated by electronic media.

Furthermore, the police have established 1,047 dedicated victim friendly facilities at police stations countrywide to accommodate and assist victims,” he said.