Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, has encouraged the South African Police Service to prosecute and convict police officers who commit rape. He made the statements 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,” Mthethwa said.
He added that it was inconceivable that trained police would be the ones who would violate the very rules they are supposed to uphold. “That is unacceptable and hence we believe arresting such police officers is not sufficient – they must be heavily convicted.”
In addressing the 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 to also work with other departmental divisions in ensuring that perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted, the SAPS said.
Statistics within the department indicate a detection rate of 40% and 42% for sexual offences and assault against women and children, something the SAPS describes as ‘not satisfactory’. Rape is a difficult type of crime to report due to the reluctance of victims to face their perpetrators.
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 protect their corrupt colleagues but to come forward with information regarding 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,” Mthethwa said.
The Ministry of Police said it remains committed to fighting crime, a commitment shown on the strengthening of its oversight bodies: the Independent Complaints Directorate and the Secretariat. The SAPS added that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Act obligates police leadership and management to objectively prosecute wrongdoers in the police service.