Showing solidarity with victims of abuse

At Timour Hall Primary School last Friday evening, Diep River’s Community Police Forum held a candlelight vigil in solidarity with those affected by gender-based violence. Pictured are Ward 73 councillor Eddie Andrews, Ward 63 councillor Carmen Siebritz, Wynberg CPF members, members of the Meadows Community Watch and Plumstead Neighbourhood Watch, and SAPS officers.

At Timour Hall Primary School last Friday evening, Diep River’s Community Police Forum held a candlelight vigil in solidarity with victims of abuse.

It marked the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, a UN campaign that takes place annually from November 25 (International Day of No Violence against Women) to December 10 (International Human Rights Day).

Sexual offences reported in the Diep River, Kirstenhof and Wynberg police precincts from July to September, remain largely unchanged compared to the same time last year.

The provincial second quarter crimes statistics were presented by Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen and provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile at the provincial police headquarters in Green Point this week.

“While I am encouraged that attempted murder during this period reduced by 28.9% for children and 21.1% for women when compared to the same period of the previous financial year, it is alarming that grievous bodily harm (GBH)/assault has increased by 23.1% (399 more cases) for women and 9.6% (31 more cases) for children during the reporting period. In addition to this, five more women, 4.4%, were also murdered during this period,” said Mr Allen.

The quarterly crime stats also give a breakdown per station in the province, which shows sexual offences reported at Wynberg SAPS are consistent with the previous year. Three rape cases and one sexual assault were reported in the second quarters, between July and September, of both 2021 and 2022. No cases of attempted sexual offences or contact sexual offences were reported in either year.

However Wynberg Police spokesperson Captain Silvino Davids said the numbers were still high when victims who cancelled their appointments were also considered.

Rape cases at Kirstenhof police station increased from four to six cases.

Two sexual offence cases – one rape and one sexual assault – were reported at Diep River police station for the quarter, down from three sexual offence cases reported for the same period last year.

During this week’s media briefing, Lieutenant General Patekile said tackling gender violence remained a priority for the police.

Each station had a victim-support room where abuse victims could make their statements in private, he said.

According to Sandy Graham, the victim-support coordinator at Kirstenhof SAPS, the precinct has three counsel rooms: a room at the police station, one at Westlake United Church Trust and one at Retreat Railway police station, which had seen over 273 victims from October 2021 to October 2022, including 35 domestic-violence cases, 11 sexual assaults and rapes and six child-abuse cases.

Captain Davids said the Wynberg police station’s victim-support room had seen about 65 victims from November 2021 till present.

“Each victim is counselled by our six volunteers for the different trauma they went through depending on the crime that occurred whether it is rape or domestic violence,” he said.

Sergeant Zak Marais, the Diep River police spokesman, said each shift had at least one female officer designated to help abuse victims and 90% of all the station’s visible-policing officers and detectives had been trained to help victims of abuse.

He encouraged the public to report all abuse cases and related crimes to the police.

Representatives from Mosaic Women’s Training Service and Healing Centre, the Thuthuzela Care Centre in Wynberg, the Men for Change programme and the provincial Department of Social Development, among others, met at the Wynberg police station to mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.