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South African police are failing victims of gender-based violence, report shows

South African police stations are failing to effectively help victims of gender-based violence (GBV) and rape and to apprehend suspects because a high number of victims often withdraw the cases, while there is not enough expertise in using rape kits and the process of analysing DNA is often prolonged.

A report by the Commission for Gender Equality — which assesses the level of compliance by the police in providing victim-friendly services — shows domestic violence is rising, with the highest levels being recorded in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

At the launch of the report on Tuesday, commissioner Nomasonto Mazibuko highlighted the vital role the South African Police Service plays in combating gender-based violence, given that its stations are most victims’ first port of call.

However there is “a lack of standardisation across provinces regarding resources, training, staffing and processes”, the commission found during its assessment of 66 police stations nationwide between March and September last year.

“The findings also depicted the alarming withdrawal of cases by victims, high levels of poverty and distance from police stations and courts as some hindering factors for victims’ ability to access justice,” the report states.

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