Harsher convictions for rapist-cops – urges Minister Mthethwa
13 Dec 2011
Convict, convict and more convictions on rapist-cops! That is the message echoed by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa in relation to a Parliamentary reply on police officers who are involved in acts of rape.
“As we announced our tough stance of fighting crime toughly and smartly, in whatever form it manifests itself, we equally stressed that we shall do so even within South African Police Service (SAPS). Our concerted campaign continues to rid the SAPS of undeserving police officers who commit heinous acts, in most cases whilst wearing our uniforms.”
“It is unconceivable to have people who have been trained on the code of conduct; principles of the constitution would be the ones who would violate them. That is unacceptable and hence we believe arresting such police officers, is not sufficient, they must be heavily convicted,” he stated.
As part of addressing this sensitive and serious issue of rape, the minister re-introduced the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units within SAPS primarily to provide assistance to victims, but equally work with other departmental divisions in ensuring that perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted. Any reported rape by a police officer stands in direct opposite of achieving this goal.
Statistics within the department indicate a detection rate of 40% and 42% for sexual offences and assault against women and children. Whilst this detection rate is not satisfactory, it needs to be noted that rape is internationally-considered a difficult type of crime to detect. This is largely due to the reluctance of victims to face their perpetrator and often this type of crime occurs between known acquaintances.
Minister Mthethwa further highlighted that the SAPS has the investigative capacity to deal with corrupt officers, inclusive of manpower and infrastructure. This consists of disciplinary trial units in each province as well as investigation officers for misconduct cases. He urged such officers not to shield their corrupt colleagues but to come forward with any alleged acts of rape or misconduct.
“Last month I further asked the Civilian Secretariat for Police and the Human Resource Development of SAPS to work on the matter of disciplinary processes in SAPS including appeal processes. In the past this is one area where people who committed such acts, were either reinstated at work and in some cases got away with murder, so to speak. We need to ensure that those who abuse and traumatise, the already victimised citizens who come to the police stations for help – that we severely punish these rapist-cops.”
The Ministry of Police remains committed to fighting crime, particularly in relation to the vulnerable in society including women and children. The commitment is clearly shown on the strengthening of our oversight bodies: the Independent Complaints Directorate and the Secretariat to seek to re-organise strengthen and re-brand them to be more effective.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Act obligates the police leadership and management not to have any mercy on perceived biased police involvement on reported cases or as a result of police action. Therefore, the investigative role of IPID in investigating rape by a police officer or in police custody will instil confidence in members of the public. It will further address society’s frustrations and fears for their safety, knowing that police officers who transgressed will be dealt with accordingly.
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Issued by: South African Police Service
13 Dec 2011
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