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Aug '09

Day 16: Monday, 17 August 2009

Posted by steve@buddyandme.co.za

Categories: Buddy and Me

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So after having camped at the Richards Bay caravan park for the weekend, and not doing anywhere close to the amount of fishing I had hoped to indulge in, what with the rugby and braaing/socialising with the Round Tablers, the wind etc, I packed up camp this morning and headed for the Beares Richards Bay store. Soon after arriving and meeting Koos Du Plessis, the store manager, and all the great Beares people there, an amazing lady by the name of Connie Williamson from the Zululand Observer arrived to do an interview. This proved to be one of the most (If not THE most) in-depth – one and a half hour – interviews I have ever undertaken – maybe Malisa’s of the Germiston City News was as in-depth. Afterwards, thinking about it, I’m not sure who’s more dedicated to the fight against child rape, her or me. So Connie, I look forward to reading your article on Thursday, when I reach Pongola.

Soon after Connie left the store, my second guest arrived, who is a Captain with the ‘FCS’ police unit which is basically the restructured old CPU (Child Protection Unit) but now is known as ‘The Family Violence – child abuse – sexual offences unit’. My chat with him proved to be extremely interesting and also went on for a little over an hour.

Our conversation centred mainly on the number of child rape cases involving children under the age of 12 occurring in the Empangeni/Richards Bay area, and the conviction rate handed down by the courts. According to information given to me by the Department of Social Development and other organisations and people living in the area, approximately 50 – 60 cases of child rape are occurring in the area on a daily basis. My guest confirmed that they have an investigation team consisting of 7 detectives and each one has a continuous case load of between 60 and 80 cases, and believes that approximately 5 – 7 new cases are reported to the police in this area every day. He did not dispute the fact that, by far the majority of cases are not reported to the police, and this is in spite of the new Sexual Offences Act, Act 32 of 2007 which was promulgated in November 2007, which states that any parent who does not report a case of their child being raped to the police is guilty of an offence, and that the actual number of cases taking place in the area could be, as stated, 50 – 60.

He went on to confirm that due to the excellent working relationship the unit has with the Control Prosecutors for sexual offences in Empangeni, they are experiencing a much higher conviction rate than that of the National conviction rate which currently stands at 4%. Unfortunately he could not confirm exactly what that rate is. He believes that their conviction rate could be much higher if it was not for the following problems experienced by the unit:

  • There are 7 detectives investigating a huge volume of cases and having to travel vast distances to get statements and evidence. In order to accomplish this they require transport. The unit currently has the use of 3 (THREE) vehicles, all of which have exceeded 300 000 kilometres, which results in the vehicles continuously breaking down. These three vehicles also have to be used to transport dockets to the courts in Pietermaritzburg and, while talking to me, he received a phone call advising him that the vehicle which was sent to Pietermaritzburg this morning with urgent documents for a case there, had broken down! These vehicles are also used to transport evidence to Pretoria for forensic tests, DNA etc.

  • There were 12 satellite (cluster) police stations which the unit in Empangeni serviced. This has been reduced to 5; the other 7 police stations now have no specialised unit providing them with specialised child rape investigations. The investigation of child rape cases falling in the jurisdiction of these seven police stations, rely on the investigating skills of the local detectives and, as he explained, these detectives are expected to investigate cases of car theft, house breaking, hi-jacking and goodness knows what else, and of course child rape. My guest is a very experienced policeman and he just shook his head and confirmed what everyone knows, the investigation of rape – not to mention child rape in particular, requires extremely specialised training. He also confirmed what all the prosecutors around the country have been telling me. “The low conviction rate is due to the inefficiency and poor investigation techniques undertaken by inexperienced police officers”.

My next discussion was the implementation of the sections defined in the Sexual Offences Act – Act 32 of 2007. When asked if the contents of this act are being implemented in the area, he looked at me and smiled and went on to confirm my findings from all the police I have spoken to so far. According to him there are only a handful of police offices that are aware that the act actually exists. And that is purely because they had to register the dockets and saw ‘Act 32 – 2007’. Very few police officers know what the act is or what it involves. This he confirmed is the biggest problem the police force is facing. The members are not sent on training programmes to educate them with regard to new legislation. Hell, according to him, very few know the old legislation. Now, I think it’s only fair to tell you that I was a cop in Norwood from 1975 – 1979 and in those days we, as police officers, attended weekly training programmes to ensure that we were fully au fait with new legislation, but it seems that the powers that be believe that the members of the SAPS are clever enough and don’t need to be taught the law. Sorry to be the one to tell you guys, but you are wrong, nobody is clever enough not to require on going training in their jobs.

My photo’s for the day includes two I took from the harbour control observation station (above) and if Gail does it right and puts the two together/alongside each other (they were taken in sequence – or rather close to it) you can see the entire Richards Bay harbour area, quite a spectacular sight. The other one (below) is of the Beares Richards Bay staff with Koos Du Plessis (manager) and his dedicated staff.

Please don’t forget to pass on the word to all your family and friends to visit this web-site and to register for my comments blog and to send me your comments and opinions by way of the blog (or on my e-mail steve@buddyandme.co.za ) regarding what we need to do to stop child rape, I need to hear from you.

So tonight I am attending a meeting with the local Round Table guys where I am going to twist their ears on the present child rape situation in the country, so come prepared guys. So until tomorrow…

Caring regards from
Buddy and Me

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