The horrific gang-rape and murder of a young girl in Bredasdorp over the weekend is condemned in the strongest possible terms and highlights an urgent need for communities to stand together to prevent these heinous crimes against women.
Police have already arrested a suspect and reportedly more arrests may follow soon. This is a welcome development and I trust that the South African Police Service (SAPS) investigation into this case will be thorough and swift so that the perpetrators of this most horrendous crime are brought to book. We want to see criminals convicted for this crime.
Proper investigations followed by prosecutions and convictions are essential for serving justice – in this case, and in every single rape case in South Africa. A strong message must be sent out that rapists will face the full might of the law. The Department of Community Safety, through its constitutional oversight powers, will monitor this case and hold the police to account to ensure just this.
Nationally, the conviction rate for sexual offences that make it to court stands at 61%. Nationally, of the total sexual crimes reported against women and children in 2011/2012, roughly 30% were crimes against children under the age of 18. In the Western Cape, a total of 9153 sexual offences -which includes rape- were reported last year.
Rape and sexual crimes must be reported to the police. I encourage victims to report these crimes – and to tell police about suspected rapists. To report crimes, members of the public should visit their nearest police station or call:
SAPS emergency: 10111
SAPS Crime Stop: 08600 10111
Every police precinct in the Western Cape has a Victim Support Room (totalling 149 province-wide) where victims of rape can report crimes and give their statements in a safe and victim-friendly environment. Victim-support volunteers, which have been trained in a joint partnership between Community Safety, Social Development and SAPS, will assist the victim through the police reporting process. Victims may, in most circumstances, take a family member or friend with them to give a statement, in their home language.
Social workers are also available on request to provide counselling for rape victims and their families and can be contacted by visiting their local Social Development Office or by calling the Western Cape Government Social Development’s toll free line on 0800 220-250. The Women Abuse Helpline is also available on 0800 150 150.
Rape, domestic violence and violence against women are not women’s issues, they are everyone’s issues. Women’s safety ultimately affects everyone in society and communities must stand together to prevent sexual crimes and support victims.