Johannesburg – Addressing the provincial legislature last Thursday Gauteng Community Safety acting head of department Sipho Thanjekwayo said gender-based violence (GBV) cases reported declined during Level 4 of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Thanjekwayo said Gauteng police opened 1 426 domestic abuse cases since Level 5 lockdown was implemented; most of which were reported in Johannesburg police stations. There were 295 in Johannesburg, 365 in Tshwane, 326 in Sedibeng, and 70 on the East Rand.
“We think since alcohol, a big driver in GBV and domestic violence cases was restricted, it had a huge impact in reducing the numbers. Since Level 4 there have been fewer cases reported,” he said.
Thanjekwayo added that GBV supporting and reporting were not restricted to the police and psychosocial support because those were essential services.
“During Level 5 lockdown we sent officials to all police stations to obtain cases reported and observe if the situation was getting better or worse. We have also noted that magistrate’s courts are not functioning optimally, forcing matters to be postponed. Some victim empowerment centres are also not functioning optimally; and that could also have an impact on the numbers we are getting,” Thanjekwayo said.
He added that there is a possibility that cases of crimes against women and children were not being prioritised by police officers due competing demands at police stations.
“We are unable to properly co-ordinate GBV cases which have been withdrawn because our officials are unable to travel to various courts. We have ring-fenced all GBV cases reported during Level 5 and giving them special attention. We want to see how they will progress in courts up to conviction stage. We don’t want to see any of the cases falling through the cracks or withdrawn and victims not returning to courts. We want all GBV victims to receive the necessary support,” he said.
He explained that all 23 shelters in the province still admit GBV victims and their children.
“We have noticed that there has not been an increase in the number of people admitted in centres. Social workers continue to provide information and brief victims. Shelter school support programmes will continue being provided to children at the centres,” Thanjekwayo said.