'Police failing to enforce Domestic Violence Act'

15 June 2015 - 02:30 By Aarti J Narsee

A fortnight after Constable Ronnie Masie shot dead his wife and three others in the Alexandra police station in Johannesburg, civil society has written to parliament demanding serious oversight on domestic violence. The letter written by the Women's Legal Centre and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research raises "critical issues" about the poor implementation of the Domestic Violence Act by the South African Police Service.The letter notes that national police commissioner Riah Phiyega had failed since 2013 to submit reports to parliament on domestic violence as required by the Domestic Violence Act.Speaking to The Times, researcher Lisa Vetten from the Wits institute said the SAPS, including the commissioner, were breaking the law by ignoring provisions of the act.Last month, the Civilian Secretariat of Police told parliament that only one of 156 police stations checked was found to be 100% compliant with the act. "Disappointing levels of compliance" had become a "persistent feature" within the SAPS, it said.Repercussions of non-compliance are highlighted in court. In one case the police failed to execute a warrant of arrest for an estranged husband, who later raped his wife.In a separate case, a woman approached the courts and the police after her former husband stalked, threatened and harassed her. They did not help her, and she and her partner were later shot by the former husband.The letter says at least 55 women in possession of protection orders in 2009 were killed by intimate partners.It raises concerns about police officers who perpetrate domestic violence.The chairman of parliament's portfolio committee on police, Francois Beukman, confirmed that he had received the letter and said addressing domestic violence was a "priority for the committee".The SAPS and other stakeholders would be invited to parliament next month to address these concerns.

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