Police ‘cannot turn away’ victims of sexual abuse and violence
Fikile Mbalula says each slap in the face a potential femicide and each unwanted touch a potential rape
No victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence must be sent away from a police station without a case being opened and a proper interview made‚ Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says.
"We need not see bruises to open a case‚" he said on Saturday‚ adding that each slap in the face was a potential femicide and each unwanted touch was a potential rape.
Victims must also not be "re-humiliated" nor "re-victimised" by police‚ Mbalula said.
"The offences of domestic violence‚ rape‚ femicide and infanticide particularly‚ are surrounded by strong feelings‚ and insensitive interviewing of a victim by police or friends of a victim already humiliated and degraded‚ may cause further trauma‚" he added.
He also said that while some allegations of rape may be false‚ all investigations must commence on the premise that the complainant is a genuine victim.
Mballula was speaking in Eldorado Park on Friday at the unveiling of the Policy on Reducing Barriers to the Reporting of Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence‚ which he described as "a significant milestone in Government’s efforts to bring to an end to this ongoing scourge against South Africa’s most vulnerable citizens".
"This policy provides the South African Police Service with important instructions on how to behave‚ what to do‚ how to do it on issues of sexual offences and domestic violence‚ and for enhancing the delivery of high quality services to communities.
"The Policy will also give communities and our vulnerable groups understanding of their rights and expectations‚" Mbalula said.
"We are duty bound to ensure that all South Africans feel safe‚ at home‚ school‚ work‚ or in their communities‚" he added.
The focus for public awareness‚ he said‚ would be a 6 point plan:
- All victims should be treated with respect‚ dignity and interviewed by a trained police official in a victim sensitive manner;
- Victims should be assisted in a Victim Friendly Room (VFR) or an alternative room where the statement will be taken in private or other location providing victim support services;
- Victims will be referred/taken for medical examination by the healthcare professional to obtain medical evidence and complete a medical report including seeing to the health of the victim;
- The investigation should be conducted by the Family Violence‚ Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit (FCS) or a detective with relevant training;
- .The families and victims of sexual offences‚ femicide and infanticide should all be referred to victim support services that are available within the precinct for legal‚ medical‚ social and psychological help;
- Victims should be proactively with feedback on the progress of their cases on continuous basis – I stress this must be proactive on our part as police investigators
Mbalula said that on August 17 and 18‚ he would host an Action Indaba in Tshwane with "all stakeholders we can get under one roof to once and for all come up with an Action Plan and Declaration which will bind the SAPS and all of us to break the back on domestic violence and its accompanying crimes‚ the gender based violence".