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Cops can't track child rape cases

By Anna Majavu | Dec 09, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE Police ministry has no idea how many child rape cases are withdrawn because of police failure to investigate and collect forensic evidence - or because forensic reports are not available.

This was revealed yesterday in Parliament by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Mthethwa was replying in writing to a parliamentary question by DA MP Emmah More. She had asked Mthethwa to provide numbers of child rapes in South Africa over the past three years.

She also asked him how many cases were withdrawn because of failed investigation and lack of forensic evidence - and what action had been taken against police involved in these cases.

Mthethwa said finding the answers would "present an almost insurmountable obstacle". He admitted the government had no system to track the number of child rape cases being withdrawn, or to record why investigations into child rape were failing.

Mthethwa said "literally hundreds of police members would have to be withdrawn from operational duties" to go through the police computer system looking for the cases.

"This is clearly not a feasible option in view of ongoing urgent operational demands on members having to combat crime . as a first priority."

He also urged the DA not to compare child rape statistics from before December 2007 with the number of rapes occurring after that date.

This because the Sexual Offences Amendment Act of 2007 now defines more types of sexual assault as rape.

Mthethwa said police had tried to come up with a way to compare the child rape rate over the past few years.

"But since then (we) experienced such criticism that we are now going to wait till the 2009/2010 release of crime statistics (which may only occur in September 2010) before making any further comparisons," he said.

Advocacy manager at Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Sam Waterhouse said police have now been backed into a corner and made to account for crime rates in the country.

"This doesn't address what social development, education and other departments should be doing to address the rate of crime," Waterhouse said.

"But the police should upload information on the ages of rape complainants, and the reason cases are being dropped, because they do record this information on the docket."


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