Ntokozo Buthelezi, Programme Manager of Ikusasa Elihle Youth Development organization together with members of People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), gender-based violence (GBV) survivors, and representatives of victim empowerment centres held a march in Pretoria calling for greater support for GBV victims in the criminal justice system.
“The South African criminal justice system lacks the ability to respond to victims of abuse adequately, resulting in secondary victimization,” said Buthelezi. A memorandum was handed over to Minister of Police Bheki Cele and National Prosecuting Authority head advocate Shamila Batohi.
Issues addressed in the memorandum included the lack of feedback on the progress of cases, secondary victimisation of survivors and police referring GBV cases to be dealt with by families at home, as well as poor attitudes of some SAPS members, among others.
Buthelezi added that police officers often lacked the expertise and knowledge to deal with victims of abuse. He notes that there is a huge need for the department to train the police to understand the problem and respond accordingly.
“The police are the most important people who should be given knowledge of how to deal with a victim, especially sexual offences. There needs to be a quick response, we don’t want to wait for a police van, there must be a team ready to respond,” he said.
POWA chief executive Mary Makgaba said a collective effort and a holistic approach were needed to deal with gender-based violence and femicide. “Government alone cannot manage this second pandemic,” she said. At the memorandum handover, Cele said he would partner with the organisations involved to fight the war against GBV and appealed to families to stop forcing GBV survivors to withdraw cases.