In the midst of an epidemic of “correctional” rapes of lesbian women and sexual offences against women in general, the DA has expressed shock that only 3.3% of South African Police Service (SAPS) members have been trained to handle sexual offences.

In a report on the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act tabled in Parliament, it was revealed that between 2008 and 2011 only 3 222 SAPS members took part in the First Responder to Sexual Offences Learning Programme while only 3 137 detectives completed the Sexual Offences Course for Investigating Officers.

Dianne Kohler Barnard, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, noted that there are 193 892 SAPS members, which means that fewer than 3.3% of members have received training on dealing with sexual offences.

Last year alone, 66 196 sexual offences were reported to the SAPS – representing 10.4% of all contact crimes.

“The lack of training on how to deal with these cases goes a long way toward explaining why so many sexual offences cases either fail to go to court or fail to secure a conviction,” said Barnard.

She added: “In a country where there is such a massive incidence of violence against women, it is utterly unacceptable that the SAPS is not taking this seriously and ensuring that every police officer is trained on the Sexual Offences Act.”

Lack of police training and even the secondary victimisation of victims by the police have been blamed for many lesbians choosing not to report attacks against them to the authorities.

In a number of cases, alleged perpetrators of attacks against lesbian women have been released due to shoddy police investigation.

Barnard called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to take action and to ensure that SAPS members not only receive training on sexual offences, but also that this training is ongoing.

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