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“Children robbed of justice due to the country’s courts,” says NPO

todayJune 5, 2024 39

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Non-profit Child Protection Organisation, Women and Men Against Child Abuse, says children are usually robbed of their right to justice due to the lack of victim-friendly rooms and intermediaries in most courts in the country.

The organisation says this then causes delays and poses a great problem for child victims, as the right to testify in a separate room via an intermediary gets overlooked or the case gets postponed.

Yesterday, the Public Protector, Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, released her findings on the SAPS and magistrates, which revealed that the Department of Justice did not put adequate measures in place to protect victims of gender-based violence (GBV).

Her report comes almost two weeks after the President signed into law the National Council on GBVF Bill that’s aimed at strengthening the fight against the scourge.

Gcaleka’s office investigated a sample of 38 magistrates courts across all nine provinces and uncovered some areas of concern.

It found that 37 of the 38 courts inspected do not have functional case management systems.

She says the issue is rife in all the country’s nine provinces.

The Women and Men Against Child Abuse Advocacy Manager, Luke Lamprecht, says the criminal justice system can be improved through the centralisation of the family, child and sexual offences unit.
Meaning there should at least be one unit for every 10 police stations.
The Public Protector’s report also lamented the SAPS’ lack of training to deal with gender-based violence cases.

“The information before me indicates that in some instances, there are delays by SAPS to respond to scenes of domestic violence and/or provide assistance to victims, with the SAPS citing that they do not have enough vehicles at their respective stations to respond,” said Gcaleka.

Police union, Popcru, has conceded that the Public Protector’s report did not miss the mark.

The union says poor police training is among the issues they have raised with the police minister, Bheki Cele. Other areas of concern for the union include the under resourcing of police stations and understaffing.
Popcru spokesperson, Richard Mamabolohas, says a lot of GBV related cases have in the past been turned back or not concluded due to these issues.

 

Civil rights movement, #NotInMyName International, has committed itself to actively monitoring the implementation of the recommendations made in the Public Protector’s report.

“This comprehensive report sheds light on significant issues impeding justice and protection for GBV victims, and we commend the Public Protector for this critical work. The findings and recommendations align with our ongoing advocacy for systemic reforms to better protect and support victims and survivors of GBV,” says the president of the organisation, Siyabulela Jentile.

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

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