President Cyril Ramaphosa says more than 5 000 police officers have been trained since April this year to help them assist victims of gender-based violence when they open a case.
The President was responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.
“More than 5 000 members have been trained since April 2019.
“In addition, there is an initiative to train and capacitate female SAPS members who are placed at Client Service Centres on the ‘Sexual Offences for Investigators Learning Programme’.
“This training is aimed at creating a conducive setting for GBV victims, especially female victims, who find it difficult to report such crimes to male officers,” he said.
DA Western Cape’s Cathlene Labuschagne had asked the President what mechanisms will be put in place to professionalise and train the police and social services in order to improve the quality of investigations into GBV crimes and increase the conviction rate of offenders in the country’s courts.
The President said a vital pillar of government’s emergency action plan on gender-based violence is to strengthen the criminal justice system.
He said that this was to ensure that justice is served, perpetrators are held to account, survivors do not suffer secondary victimisation, and the law acts as a deterrent.
“In pursuit of these goals, members of the South African Police Service undergo training programmes to professionally assist victims of gender-based violence.
“This training includes programmes on children and youth at risk, domestic violence, vulnerable children, victim empowerment and a First Responder to Sexual Offences Learning Programme,” he said.
He said in addition to the measures undertaken by the Police, the Department of Social Development, and the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities have put in place a package of social services to improve investigations and increase conviction rates of offenders.
He said government is providing funding to non-governmental organisations operating in some police stations to provide counselling and psychosocial services to victims of violence.
“Among other things, this is meant to enable victims to give quality statements and reduce the number of cases later withdrawn by victims.
“Government is recruiting more social workers to reduce the huge work load for the police and social workers.
“The Department of Social Development is currently managing the Gender Based Violence Command Centre, which provides online counselling services such as trauma debriefing and psychosocial support,” he said.
The toll free number to access these services is 0800 428 428