Complaint regarding the SAPS’ management of serial rape

13 October 2013

Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane
The Secretary
The Civilian Secretariat for Police

Dear Ms Irish-Qhobosheane

RE: Complaint regarding the SAPS’ management of serial rape

The Shukumisa Campaign is a coalition of organisations which provides services to rape survivors as well as undertaking research around sexual violence. In the course of these various activities we have become increasingly alarmed by the manner in which serial rapes are being dealt with by the SAPS.
Research undertaken at one rural police station in Mpumalanga identified 37 rapes committed by 13 men between 2005 and 2007. (The study is appended to this letter.) We note with great concern that none of these cases were linked or treated as possible cases of serial rape and that on almost every occasion when these men were arrested they were released on bail – only to reappear in court some months later on a fresh charge of rape. At a recent presentation organised by the SAPS, it was stated that 477 serial rapists were identified by analysis of DNA submitted to the Forensic Science Laboratory during the three-month period October – December 2012 alone. More anecdotally, it was suggested to one of our members that DNA analysis has identified as many as 1 000 potential serial rapists in Gauteng.

These figures are astonishing and we urge the Secretariat to investigate these numbers as a matter of urgency. With the consensus internationally being that serial rapists only cease raping once caught, we further urge the Secretariat to clarify the efforts being made by the SAPS to apprehend these suspects speedily. As the Mpumalanga research suggests, investigations into these matters is not optimal. This, we understand, is partly due to the fact that no national policy exists dictating the co-ordination of serial rape investigations. The result is that the same series of rapes is not connected across stations and may be investigated separately by different detectives. This may also lead to suspects being tried for individual rapes, rather than the series.
Serial rape is one of the very few types of rape within the SAPS’ power to prevent. Given the high rate of rape in South Africa, we are concerned that it would not appear to be getting the attention it deserves. Again, we urge the Secretariate to investigate this complaint as a matter of priority and to encourage the SAPS to form national or provincial task teams whose specific mandate is the rapid investigation of these matters. Further, with the promulgation of the DNA Bill imminent, we would also recommend exploring how its provisions could further enhance the identification and investigation of serial rape.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely
Lisa Vetten

On behalf of the Shukumisa Campaign
Adapt, AIDS Legal Network, Childline SA, Community Law Centre Parliamentary Participation Unit, eMPathy trust Southern Africa, Ekhupholeni Crisis Centre, FAMSA Pietermaritzburg, Gender Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU), Greater Rape Intervention Project (GRIP), Justice and Women (JAW), Legal Resources Centre, Lethabong Legal Advice Centre, Lifeline/Rape Crisis Pietermaritzburg, Limpopo Legal Advice Centre, Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, Mosaic, Nisaa Women’s Support Centre, Peddie Women’s Support Centre, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), Project Empower, RAPCAN, Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, Remmoho, Teddy Bear Clinic, Sexual Assault Clinic, Sonke Gender Justice Network, Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme, Thusanang Advice Centre, Tipfuxeni Community Counselling Centre, Triangle Project, Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women, Women on Farms Project, Women’s Legal Centre.

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