Police failure to assist complainants in terms of the domestic violence act is misconduct, and a disciplinable offence

Date: 30/09/2017

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) is deeply unsatisfied with the South African Police Service (SAPS)  and Civilian Secretariat for Police reports on police compliance with the Domestic Violence Act, presented in the Portfolio Committee on Police in Parliament today. The Minister of Police has stated that domestic violence is a SAPS priority, but today’s reports do not bear that out.


The SAPS report for the period April 2015 – September 2015 indicates that only 219 incidents of non-compliance were identified country-wide, with zero incidents in Mpumalanga. Of these, 128 case are still under investigation and 131 were so-called “not serious” cases of non-compliance only subject to “remedial steps”. Not a single case was considered serious with a guilty finding. Non-compliance numbers rose to 641 incidents of non-compliance for the period October 2015 – March 2016, with as little as three cases in Mpumalanga, and nine in the North West. Of these, 357 were “non-serious” and subject to “remedial steps”, and 190 cases were still under investigation. Again, not a single case was considered serious.

During the period April 2015 – March 2016, the Secretariat could only visit 546 police stations, with supposed full police compliance with the Domestic Violence Act in Gauteng and Mpumalanga, and only one case of non-compliance in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The Portfolio Committee rightly questioned these highly unlikely numbers, and the Secretariat had to agree that their sampling methodology is problematic. The Secretariat then reported that for the period April – September 2016, not one of the 246 stations visited was 100% compliant.

“The reports we saw today are totally unacceptable. These numbers can’t be right. The same problems with the sampling methodology and suspiciously low levels non-compliance are evident year on year, without change. We have serious questions about the ability of the Secretariat to monitor SAPS compliance at the provincial level, and the validity of the data points presented. Provinces have a lot of explaining to do. We are also shocked by what appears to be utter failure to properly discipline non-compliant officers, especially those who are perpetrators of domestic violence themselves,” said Sanja Bornman, attorney in the Lawyers for Human Rights Gender Equality Programme.

Police failure to assist complainants in terms of the Domestic Violence Act is misconduct, and a disciplinable offence. Domestic violence is extremely prevalent in South Africa, and if left to escalate can result in death. Recent examples include Nosipho Mandleleni, who was shambokked to death by her boyfriend, former ANCYL region leader Patrick Wisani, and Karabo Mokoena who was in an abusive relationship with Sandile Mantsoe.

For more Information contact Carol Mohlala on 079 238 9826 or Sanja Bornman on 083 522 2933.

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