Rape kit 'shortages' could deny justice for Eastern Cape rape victims: DA

13 September 2018 - 16:09 By Timeslive
No DNA collection kits had been used in the Eastern Cape in the 2018-19 year due to a shortage.
No DNA collection kits had been used in the Eastern Cape in the 2018-19 year due to a shortage.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Police in the Eastern Cape have not used a single rape kit in the current financial year due to a “shortage”.

This shock admission – which the DA in the province said meant that “thousands of women… who are raped could be denied justice” – was made in official responses to questions posed in the Eastern Cape legislature.

EC safety MEC Weziwe Tikana‚ responding to written questions by the DA‚ said that 41‚545 rape kits were used by the SAPS in the 2017-18 financial year‚ but that none had been used so far in the 2018-19 year.

“[The] shortage is a national challenge and not isolated only to the Eastern Cape‚” Tikana said in her response.

The responses are signed off by Brigadier T Mjali‚ the SAPS Eastern Cape head of finance and administration. They are “correct and verified with the offices”‚ Mjali says.

Tikana also admitted that no DNA collection kits had been used in the 2018-19 year to date‚ compared to 44‚600 used the previous financial year.

“Yes‚ the department experiences a shortage of DNA collection kits in the Eastern Cape‚” Tikana said.

The revelation came just two days after the national crime statistics were released.

The DA’s Bobby Stevenson said in a statement on Thursday: “Thousands of women in the Eastern Cape who are raped could be denied justice because the South African Police Service does not have a single rape kit on hand. In a province with 19 reported rapes a day‚ this is a shocking betrayal of the rights of women. This will cause the already low conviction rate in rape cases to plummet further.

It is beyond belief that rapists could be free to roam our streets again in search of other victims‚ because the SAPS has no rape or DNA collection kits.”

He said that DNA evidence could play a “crucial role” in seeing perpetrators of other crimes being convicted‚ but the lack of DNA collection kits hampered police’s ability to bring suspects to justice.

“This is a crisis of huge proportions‚” said Stevenson. “Rape victims are being betrayed by an under-resourced police service. Why is SAPS finding itself in this position? Heads should roll.”