SAPS don’t have enough rape kits

Table View police station doesn’t have any rape kits, say activists fighting gender-based violence. 

The kits are used to collect DNA evidence from a rape victim, but SA Women Fight Back (SAWFB) says when it surveyed 35 police stations recently it found only seven had enough and Table View was one of the stations that said it had none. 

Milnerton reported being short one kit, while Bothasig had enough, SAWFB said. 

Tabletalk contacted all three stations for comment on Friday. 

Table View police spokeswoman Captain Adriana Chandler on Tuesday said she would only be back in office on Thursday and would respond then. 

Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi said she was not in office and referred us to another constable at Milnerton SAPS. 

The constable could not be reached on her cellphone or landline on Tuesday. SAWFB questions statistics the police presented to Parliament’s portfolio committee on police on Wednesday August 26.  

According to the presentation, there is a backlog of 28 465 DNA samples in gender-based-violence cases, and there is no shortage of rape kits at police stations. 

SAWFB referred to a DA statement, released a few days before the presentation, that claimed the backlog of DNA cases was much bigger. 

“I am reliably informed that the situation has worsened and that the backlog has now exploded to nearly 100 000 DNA case exhibits which have not been finalised,” said the party’s spokesman on police issues, Andrew Whitfield. 

In January, Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed a contract worth almost R500 million had been awarded to Acino Forensics, a company that specialises in DNA evidence collection and crime scene kits. 

SAWFB spokeswoman Bronwyn Litkie said that a number of the police stations they had called “did not know what a rape kit was”. 

Tabletalk sent Table View and Milnerton police stations questions on Friday August 28 and again on Monday and yesterday asking them how many rape kits they had and where they sent rape victims if they did not have an available kit. 

SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “As things stand now, no police station should be without evidence-collection kits including adult and juvenile rape kits. The SAPS has entered into a three-year contract with a supplier, and we are currently in the second year of the contract with regular deliveries being made. 

Should any station be without any of these kits it will be considered a gross dereliction of duty and the station commander or whoever is responsible will be called to account.” 

Ms Litkie said SAPS had a responsibility to check stations were adequately stocked with the rape kits. 

“As each station is unique, and some stations receive far more cases than others it is also the stations’ job to anticipate having enough at all times. This is their job.” 

Ms Litkie said the rape kits played a crucial role in collecting evidence that could be the difference between a rapist going to jail or going free. 

“Time is really of the essence here, and we see so many cases being thrown out because of insufficient evidence,” she said. 

It took great courage for someone who had endured the trauma of rape to press charges, she said. 

“These women and girls then go to report these crimes and are turned away because the people who are there to serve and protect turn them away. It is an insult to our human rights as well an insult to women’s dignity.”

Edith Kriel, the director of Jelly Beanz, a non-profit that supports children and their families who have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect, said: “I don’t doubt that there may be shortages with the rape kits in some areas. Maybe a relevant question to ask is how do we help to find the solution. It is one thing to complain, quite another to find constructive solutions.”