Panafrican News Agency

South Africa's justice system 'failing sexual offence victims'

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – As the world on Tuesday celebrated International Women’s Day and the contributions of women in society, shocking figures reveal how South Africa’s justice system is failing sexual offence victims.

Following a parliamentary question submitted by the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) earlier this month, it has been revealed that as of 31 December 2021, the backlog of sexual offence cases in the court system stands at 15,605 cases, 81.4% of all sexual offence cases currently in South Africa.

This figure is a massive increase from the 52.1% backlog one year ago.

Research by the South African Medical Research Council has previously established that nearly half of rape cases are withdrawn before evidence is led, with about half of these withdrawals being initiated by victims who indicate that they do so because they want to get on with their lives.

The DA said that while President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ruling ANC make bold pronouncements about tackling gender-based violence and femicide, and prioritising the prosecution of sexual offences, the vast majority of victims of these crimes wait for justice that may never come.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, refers to a draft Backlog Reduction Framework which is in the final stages of approval, as a solution to this problem.

However, the DA says it believes that this is simply too little too late. “Action needs to be taken immediately. South Africans are tired of committees and task teams with plans that lead nowhere,” said DA MP Werner Horn.

He said the DA will be writing to the Minister to request that he creates and implements an emergency turn-around plan to address this backlog.

“The victims of sexual offence crimes deserve justice to be delivered in a swift and effective manner. We will be playing our part in ensuring that our court system does not let them down any longer,” he added.

-0- PANA CU/MA 9March2022