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Chronic shortage of rape and DNA kits

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The shortage, which is being experienced countrywide, paints a grim picture of the chronic under-resourcing and under-equipping of the FCS units

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SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units in the Northern Cape are facing a chronic shortage of rape kits and DNA collection kits.

In a recent Parliamentary reply from the Minister of Police, it emerged that the FCS units in the Northern Cape had a total shortage of 35 vehicles, as well as 1 350 rape kits, 1 700 DNA collection kits, 21 landline telephones, 41 bulletproof vests, 1 100 J88 forms, 17 two-way mirrors, 17 recording equipment for interviews and 40 laptops.

In a statement issued recently by Zakhele Mbhele, the DA spokesperson for Police, the shortage, which is being experienced countrywide, paints a grim picture of the chronic under-resourcing and under-equipping of the FCS units which, he pointed out, were critical for securing justice for the victims of violence and abuse.

“Following the DA’s bid to seek details of the extent of shortages in the FCS units, the reply reveals that nationally there’s a shortage of about 384 vehicles dedicated to FCS units,” Mbhele pointed out.

There’s also a countrywide shortage of 18 637 crime kits, referred to as “rape kits” and 43 489 DNA collection kits.

“Other equipment shortages, which hamper the functioning of FCS units, include a national shortage of 268 landline telephones, 173 bullet-resistant vests, recording equipment for interviews and a massive lack of 414 laptops at FCS units across the country,” Mbhele pointed out.

“This is horrific and does not bode well for the effective functioning of the FCS units as these resources are crucial for the police to assist victims of rape and violence and drive swift, quality investigation of cases.”

Mbhele added that his party had long maintained that there was a serious nationwide police mismanagement crisis and that the FCS units were hardest hit by its trickle-down effects.

“These shocking statistics are reflective of the extent of this crisis within the SAPS leadership and our people, especially victims of rape and abuse, are failed on a constant basis due to the under-resourced and under-equipped police service,” he said.

The Northern Cape has a total of 17 FCS units. Each unit has a shortage of 100 DNA kits, as well one-way mirrors and recording equipment.

Each unit is also facing a vehicle shortage, some of them one vehicle while others, like Galeshewe and Upington, have a shortage of four vehicles. De Aar, Hartswater, Kimberley and Kuruman are each short of three vehicles, while Kakamas, Prieska, Springbok and the Sectional Unit each need an additional two vehicles.

Thirteen of the 17 units in the Province are facing shortages of 100 rape kits each with the exception of Prieska, which has a shortage of 50 kits. Only three units, namely Port Nolloth, Postmasburg and Springbok, do not have a shortage of rape kits.

Every unit also has a shortage of landline telephones, while some, like De Aar, Galeshewe, Hartswater and Pofadder, need an additional two telephones.

In terms of bulletproof vests, 11 FCS units in the Province have a shortage of three bulletproof vests, while Upington has a shortage of six. The only units that do not have a shortage of bulletproof vests are Port Nolloth, Postmasburg, Prieska and Springbok. The Sectional Unit has a shortage of two bulletproof vests.

Only four units have the required number of two-way radios, namely Hopetown, Kathu, Port Nolloth and Springbok. Some units, like Kakamas and Kimberley, have a shortage of four two-way radios, while Upington has a shortage of eight.

Eleven units are short of 100 J88 forms. These include Calvinia, Carnarvon, De Aar, Galeshewe, Hartswater, Hopetown, Kakamas, Kathu, Kimberley, Kuruman and Pofadder. The towns that do not have a shortage of J88 forms are Port Nolloth, Postmasburg, Prieska, Springbok and Upington and the Sectional Unit.

Only two FCS units have the required number of laptops, namely Port Nolloth and Postmasburg. The Sectional Unit has a shortage of four laptops, while 11 FCS units have a shortage of three each, with the exception of Upington, which has a shortage of two and Prieska, which has a shortage of one.