76% of SA police stations without rape kits but shortage will be fixed: Cele
Police minister Bheki Cele has assured parliament that all police stations across the country will have sufficient rape kits by the end of next month.
Cele made the undertaking while taking oral questions from MPs in the National Assembly on Wednesday. He conceded that by end of July, 76% of all police stations nationwide did not have rape kits, which are used to gather and preserve physical evidence in cases of sexual assault.
Cele made the concession as sexual assault and gender-based violence has come under sharp focus in the country after the gruesome rape and killing of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana - allegedly by a post office employee - and the killing of female boxing champion Leighandre Jegels.
Cele explained that the SAPS was forced to cancel a rape kit contract with a previous supplier following disputes amid allegations of corruption between the contractor and some police officials.
Cele, responding to a question from DA MP Andrew Whitfield, said all police stations would have the kits by October 14 2019 after having procured them in a new deal.
"The first consignment, at the level of 2,000, was already delivered. The main consignment of these kits will be delivered on October 14 2019 after which they will be distributed to provinces for further distribution to police stations.
"The supplier indicated that they will need time of eight weeks after receiving the order and that is why the delivery of the full kits will be October 14."
Cele said the earlier shortage of rape kits was as a result of police trying to allocate them to police stations that reported a high number of rape cases.
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"Indeed there was a 76% non-availability of the kits at the different police stations. And there are stations that are overloaded when it comes to these kind of crimes so the police tried to shift the few that were available to those stations, but up to this point the matter has been resolved," he said.
FF Plus MP Tamarin Breedt argued that the fact that 76% of the country's police stations were forced to operate without rape kits was proof that the ANC-led government did not treat the safety of women as a priority.
But this was rejected by Cele, who said the government had "recreated and revitalised" the sexual offences unit in response to the rape scourge in the country.
Anger and outrage followed the discovery of the body of missing 19-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana on September 02, 2019. She had been missing since August 24. A 42-year-old man who worked at the Clareinch Post office allegedly confessed to the rape and murder. Gender-based violence has been a national issue in South Africa for years, with 3 915 women and children being murdered in 2018.