27 April 2012

Sexual offences: What happened to being free?

red, black and white poster in the form of a target board  depicting a childs face on and bullets holes in it. the text reads our children need police not bullets.On 27 April 2012 South Africa will once again celebrate the realisation of its freedom. However, this year the singing and dancing has been overshadowed by reports of violent rape cases against the most vulnerable amongst us; people with disabilities, children and women.

As South Africa is preparing to celebrate 18 years of emancipation from apartheid, another form of oppression and violence is taking place right under our noses. The news rooms have been abuzz with reports of youth raping their peers and adults sexually abusing the very same people they should be protecting.

Materials released to SAHA by the South African Police Service under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), reveal that in 2010/2011 a total of 66 196 sexual offences were reported.

In some instances cases were only brought to the attention of the police services through social media and whistleblowers, rather than by the victims themselves. Thus, raising the question of how many rape cases go unreported? Who is included in the number? What constitutes the figure?

In an attempt to understand the huge number of rape cases, a follow up request for information under PAIA has been made by SAHA for a more detailed report from SAPS, which would give a breakdown of the different categories of sexual assaults as well as a breakdown of rape victims and perpetrators. SAHA is awaiting a response to this request.

Why is the breakdown necessary?

Currently, the 66 196 figure is representative of a reactive measure undertaken by SAPS.  In order for effective interventions and proactive measures to be put in place to reduce the large number of sexual assaults, documents containing statistics of types and categories of victims and perpetrators should be made available.

For more information contact Freedom of Information Programme.