Police Minister, General Bheki Cele has called on the management of the South African Police Service to crack the whip on police stations across the country, that don’t deliver victim centered services to victims and survivors of gender based violence.
This call comes as the Police Minister Cele and National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Fannie Masemola on Thursday 26 May 2022, visited the Eastern Cape Province and received a full briefing on the status of police stations in the province.
The high level briefing comes a day after hundreds of people marched to the Mthatha police station in the province, demanding improved services from the station, following the brutal murder of local resident Namhla Mtwa.
Mtwa (35) was shot and killed inside her car by an unknown suspect in the driveway of her Sidwadwa home in Mthatha. She sustained gunshot wounds to her upper body and was declared dead at the scene. This brutal killing of Mtwa has raised concerns on the country’s battle against high cases of gender based violence, following reports that Mtwa suffered multiple cases of abuse at the hands of her partner.
The mass picket to the Mthatha station also called on the police to make an arrest in the murder case.
Minister Cele on Thursday, 26 May 2022, visited the Mtwa family along with the police top management of the SAPS, to update them on the investigations of the murder case.
He has assured the bereaved family that an arrest will be made soon.
“I am happy with the report I have received from the team of investigators and I do believe they have a solid case and justice will soon be served for this young lady whose life was cut short in the most gruesome way.”
Cele also revealed that Namhla Mtwa was in an abusive relationship that went unreported.
“Unfortunately Namhla was failed by all of us, she suffered abuse and it seems some in her family were aware of it but it went unreported, those who worked with her saw the signs of abuse and yet they said nothing and some of the abuse and assaults took place in full view of some in her community, but they did not report this to authorities. It is troubling that not a single case was opened with the police, either by Namhla or by anyone on her behalf.”
Minister Cele added that gender based violence can only be eradicated if everyone in society, from law enforcers to the community play their part.
“Gender based violence and femicide is a second pandemic that must be fought from all angles and anyone who wears the blue uniform and chooses not to protect and serve victims and survivors of GBV should be shown the door. This sort of negligence won’t be accepted nor tolerated and I’m calling on the SAPS management to ensure police walk the talk on this one or face repercussions.”
The Police Ministry remains encouraged that the SAPS continues to prioritise GBV crimes, but acknowledges that more must and more will be done to improve services at police stations. To date, R1,3 billion has been allocated to resourcing of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units that strictly investigate crimes committed against women, children and the most vulnerable groups in our communities.
There are currently GBV Desks at all police stations across the country, these desks are manned by police members trained in GBV related courses.
Over 80 thousand officers have undergone such training and are currently manning the desks.
Community members are urged to report substandard services experienced at police stations.