'Women, kids left to the mercy of wolves'

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula is under fire for closing specialised domestic violence and child protection police units and transferring their officers to local police stations.

DA spokesman on child abuse Mike Waters yesterday lambasted Nqakula at a press conference held in Cape Town, arguing that the DA's recent survey of police stations in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga has shown that the decision taken last October has failed.

The DA report comes hard on the heels of crime statistics released last week which showed a sharp spike in violent crime in the country.

Nqakula has in the past rejected any criticism of his decision, saying that deploying officers to local police stations made fighting rape and violence against women and children more effective.

Waters said yesterday that police officers were no longer operating with specialised Family Violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Offences (FCS) units, but were doing "ordinary" police work. He said that the police officers concerned only worked at police stations where they were based, leaving large areas of the country with no adequate support.

Waters also claimed that these officers have few of the resources promised to them by Nqakula at their disposal, including vehicles.

"It is clear from the DA's survey that the direct consequence of this migration process has been a deprioritisation of crimes against women and children. Not a single one of the FCS operations we surveyed could be described as being in a good state, and more than 40percent we concluded to be non-functional.

"Mpumalanga was considerably worse off than KwaZulu-Natal, with 65percent of its FCS operations being non-functional. The reality is that in large parts of these two provinces, the victims of sexual and violent assault can no longer turn to anyone who is trained to deal with their situation."

Waters said he was told by one police officer that: "We no longer are doing anything for children."

Waters said that the deployment of officers meant that some police stations had "enormous" case loads while others had very few. For example, Scottburgh police station had 219 cases while Kwadukuza had 729 cases.

In its election manifesto last year the governing party promised to put women and children first.

With its FCS migration process, the government had broken its promise to the people, with the result that the most vulnerable members of our society were being left unprotected at a time when they need it most, Waters said.