The South African Police Service (SAPS) needs to be more sensitive when dealing with rape victims, according to Nonhlanhla Ncube-Ndaba, chairperson for the portfolio committee on women, youth and persons with disabilities.
A statement released on Monday by Parliament, pointed out that Ncube-Ndaba became aware of a case in which a three-year-old was allegedly raped by a man in his 40s in Cape Town.
The mother of the child tried to report the rape twice but failed to do so as she was turned away by the police.
"The victim's mother was informed in the first police station in Harare, Cape Town, that the case was too sensitive to handle. At the second police station she was informed that the detective in charge of sexual violence cases was not available," the statement said.
Ncube-Ndaba then intervened and a case was opened.
The perpetrator was arrested the same day.
This spurred Ncube-Ndaba's call to the SAPS.
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Ncube-Ndaba said in the statement that it is not right for victims to be turned away when they try to report cases of rape.
"This will lead to perpetrators escaping sanction for the crimes they have committed. It is secondary victimisation. There is a dedicated Nyanga Cluster Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) to deal specifically with such crimes. How is it that a victim of sexual offence was turned away?
"Nyanga falls within the top four police stations with the highest recording of contact crime. The crime statistics also show that all contact crimes against children have increased, including sexual offences. So it cannot be that when a mother with a child comes to a police station to report a case of sexual assault that she is not assisted immediately," she said.
Crime statistics released last week by the SAPS showed a 4.6% increase in sexual offences.
"Whilst we applaud the police for the action in this case, it is important for law enforcement agencies to treat all cases of gender-based violence with the urgency required, as the recent crime stats indicate that the country is under serious attack," said Ncube-Ndaba.
"Child abuse and rape have no place in our society. We call upon men, women and children to stand up and make their voices heard."
As a result, the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities will brief the committee on the progress of the National Strategic Plan on gender-based violence and femicide.
It will also update the committee on the establishment of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence, in an effort to improve oversight on these issues, according to the statement.