16 days of activism – current system is failing the victims

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

DA Free State Member of the Provincial Legislature

During the time of 16 days of activism against women and child abuse, we should reflect on how the criminal justice system is failing our people in the Free State. Two recent examples stand out as reminders of how insensitive our law enforcement agencies have become.

The first example is of a police official who was abducted in Welkom and taken to a cemetery where she was assaulted and raped. After being subjected to the brutality of her abductors, the woman was humiliated by being sent from one police station to the next, forced to sit in the service centre instead of the victims support room, and later had to write her own statement.

The second example is of a woman from Ficksburg whose husband has been murdered and she herself badly assaulted on their farm. She was forced by the police to sit for a long time with flies on her bloody face outside her house at the scene. The police denied paramedics permission to give her medical assistance until they had taken her statement. Friends who arrived to assist her were not allowed to enter the house to get her notebook with her family’s telephone numbers, and police officials refused to get the telephone numbers for them.

Such individuals and many others like them are not only victims of criminals, but also victims of insensitive law enforcers and our criminal justice system. Such treatment, together with low conviction rates, prevent many victims from reporting crimes, especially cases of domestic violence and rape. Failure to pay maintenance is also a crime against women and children for which very few arrests or convictions take place.

Our gestures over 16 days, however well-meaning they might be, do not relieve the humility and pain that many victims of crime endure, firstly at the hands of criminals and secondly often due our ineffective criminal justice system, that is meant to bring justice and support to the victims. The best way to restore confidence in our criminal justice system is to ensure that criminals are detected, successfully convicted and punished.

This is also the best deterrent to would be criminals.

16 days of activism against women and child abuse has over the years not improved our criminal justice system, and has brought little relief to the growing numbers of women and children who are abused, raped, assaulted, murdered, and robbed every day.

In most instances such gestures merely serve to make politicians feel and look good.

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