The CGE says that police statistics do not reveal the true extent of sexual offences in the country.It says these crimes go unreported in the country and that “silent cases” remain concealed.This could be attributed to the barriers to reporting on sexual offences.In its review of the crime statistics, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) says that the figures do not reveal the true extent of sexual offences in South Africa.
The GCE’s researchers – Dr Thabo Rapoo, Naledi Selebano, and Lieketseng Mohlakoana-Motopi – looked at contact crimes according to the sub-categories: murder, sexual offences, attempted murder, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, and common assault.
The commission noted that contact crimes included categories of crime related to gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) that were currently affecting women and girls at high levels in the country.
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The Chapter 9 institution stated: “In terms of sexual offences as a sub-category of contact crimes, a longstanding criticism of the SAPS is that their reported figures only cover cases that were reported and recorded at their police stations.
In other words, SAPS statistics do not reveal the true nature of the extent of sexual offences in the country as many of these crimes go unreported.
It said, while these statistics assisted in detecting reporting patterns among victims/survivors, unreported cases of sexual offences such as rape remained concealed.
This is due to the barriers to the reporting of sexual offences such as lack of confidence in the criminal justice system, particularly the police and courts; fear of intimidation by the abuser; fear of not being believed; the desire to avoid the stigma associated with rape; challenges with accessing police stations that are located far away; lack of information/knowledge, and others.
“Due to this challenge of under-reporting, the 12 702 figure (5 406 or 74.1% increase) of sexual offences recorded in the 1st quarter of 2021/22 may not be a true reflection of the reality of sexual violence suffered by women and girls.
“The figure is met with scepticism as the rate could be much higher given the many cases that go unreported,” the CGE said.
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This comes after Police Minister Bheki Cele stated in August that contact crimes – such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, and all categories of assault – had registered a 60.6% increase, compared to the corresponding period of the previous financial year.
These are figures for quarter one (April-June) of the 2021/22 financial year period.
Cele further noted that the latest quarterly crime statistics were distorted because of last year’s hard lockdown, News24 reported at the time.