Maverick Citizen

MAVERICK CITIZEN #365

Soweto police station still without rape kits

Soweto police station still without rape kits
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. (Photo: Amanderson / Flickr)

While South Africa undergoes unspeakable levels of gender-based violence, the country’s police services continue to operate without the rape kits needed to collect evidence from victims, if there is to be any chance of prosecution.

A doctor, who asked to remain anonymous and who works at the Nthabiseng Thuthuzela Centre at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, told Maverick Citizen that last week she had seen a patient who she suspected was a victim of sexual abuse. When they called Naledi police station, they were told that the police there had no rape kits available.

Rape kits are used to collect evidence from people who have been sexually abused. There is a kit for children and one for adults.

A few days later, the operational manager at the Thuthuzela Centre, who asked not to be named, denied that the centre had challenges in supporting victims due to a lack of rape kits at police stations.

No, that is not true. We have never experienced such problems. If one police station doesn’t have a rape kit, they borrow from another police station,” she said.

Later, the same manager said the Thuthuzela Centre had been visited by two representatives from SAPS, who told them there was a backlog of rape kits stock sitting in Pretoria. They told the manager they would deliver more rape kits in the following weeks.

Naledi station commander, Colonel Mbanyele, was defensive when questioned about the rape kits.

Who told you that? There is no such thing, we have rape kits,” he said. He later claimed that if the police station did not have rape kits they could borrow kits from any other police station as they were not far from one another.

He said then that the station had rape kits, “as far as he knew”. When Maverick Citizen asked to see the rape kits, the station commander refused. “We cannot show every person who comes in here what we have, that is not fair on us. If someone comes tomorrow and says ‘can I see this’, we must show them? No. Please.”

Democratic Alliance shadow minister of police Andrew Whitfield recently requested information from the police commissioner on the availability of rape kits.

Whitfield said that the data supplied by the police revealed that 76% of police stations in South Africa did not have adult rape kits in stock. A further, 69% of stations did not have child rape kits in stock.

The police had said at the time they had procured rape kits for all police stations.

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo did not respond to Maverick Citizen’s questions. DM

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