By Jan Gerber
Minister in the Presidency for Women Bathabile Dlamini wants an overhaul of criminal justice legislation that could lead to domestic violence being categorised as a separate crime category.
In a written parliamentary question, EFF MP Makoti Khawula Dlamini asked whether Dlamini’s department intended to introduce amendments to current legislation or propose new legislation to curb the scourge of gender-based violence.
The minister responded that her department made a commitment during the trial of Nigerian pastor Tim Omotoso to “revisit the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Criminal Procedure Act”.
This will be done in conjunction with the relevant departments.
Omotoso and two others are on trial for a range of crimes, including rape.
“The amendments will seek to invest in strengthening justice systems to investigate and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases effectively; [and] strengthening data collection systems, so that there is clarity on the extent and depth of the problem,” reads Dlamini’s answer.
No specific crime category
“Domestic violence is currently not recorded by the police as a specific crime category, when cases of domestic violence are reported to the police, they are recorded under a range of different categories such as assault, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), malicious damage to property, pointing a firearm, murder, etc.”
She said in 2017-’18 women were the victims of 2 390 murders, 36 731 sexual offences, 3 554 attempted murders, 53 263 assaults with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and 81 141 common assaults.
She said merely knowing the number of contact crimes perpetrated against women didn’t provide enough information to understand the extent and complexities of domestic violence in South Africa.
Although the Domestic Violence Act requires police stations to keep a register of incidents of domestic violence, compliance is minimal.
Dlamini said the LGBTQI community also “continues to experience widespread discrimination, harassment and violence, despite the Constitution guaranteeing their rights to safety”.
She said there was a “lack of information regarding the progress” of a task team government established in 2011 to develop a legal framework to end violence and discrimination against LGBTQI people.