Khayelitsha police have created a programme to help victims of rape and domestic violence, as well as perpetrators of crime, to speak out against police performance to improve relations between police and the community.
The programme would give residents an opportunity to share their concerns around police work, opening of cases and communication once a case had been opened. The first session was held at the Khayelitsha police station, on Thursday May 3. Police say the idea is to grow the listening sessions and host them at bigger venues to root out the scourge of domestic violence and rape.
Participants, mostly women, spoke about their experiences when dealing with police.Stories of police cruelty, and at times praises, dominated the session. The abuse of grannies by their grandchildren, assaulting of wives by their husbands and uncles and unknown men raping children were among stories that featured prominently.
Police also provided feedback and progress on cases and showed residents how non-governmental organisations could help them.
One survivor accused the police of being selective when dealing with cases.
She claimed she was once assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, but police did not take her case seriously. Instead they asked her a lot of questions, she claimed.
Organisations such as Nonceba Family Counselling Centre urged women to use their spaces and to report domestic violence and rape.
Social supervisor at Nonceba, Nozuko Conjwa, said victims had rights. She said Nonceba’s mandate was to transform victims in to survivors.
Police’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit (FCS) forensic social worker, Thobela Mpumela, urged the victims and the survivors to use the organisations such as Nonceba and SAPS and have all the facts when reporting rape cases, especially against children.
Ms Mpumela said perpetrators targeted children because they could not interpret things properly. She and her colleagues said it could be good if victims can come to the police station with their witnesses because it helps the case to go quicker.
Station commander Brigadier Mkuseli Nkwitshi, commended the session. He said such programmes were essential to ensure adequate communication between police and the community.
He said he was excited to hear that his staff worked, but worried that there was no criticism. He said when some victims started to criticise some police members, he felt aggrieved because that means there will be some work to do.
“You do not want to be complacent and said my staff is working and yet people are not getting the service they should get. I am happy to hear that some are not doing their work properly. It means we have something to work on,” he said.
Brigadier Nkwintshi said he would be happy when perpetrators joins the sessions too. “This is a very good session. It should have been done in a big venue,” he said. “But we need to get the perpetrators as well. They need to come and get help. Then I will be happy.”