Lifeline says the way Pietermaritzburg officers deal with gender-based violence (GBV) cases has improved. In November last year victims complained about the treatment they received from police.

Lindiwe Lushozi’s husband wanted to attack her with a knife while her children were sleeping in the next room.

She says she opened a case against him in 2018, but the investigating officer never updated her. She only heard the matter did not progress and it was subsequently withdrawn in court.

Years later, Lushozi is still emotional when narrating her story. “I was told that there’s not much to tell me regarding the case because even if my husband can be arrested, he will be gone for few months and he will be out of jail and might come and kill me with my children. I was advised to leave our home if I am scared of him. I was puzzled because I had opened a case because my husband was beating me and had threatened us with a knife, sometimes I feel women are not safe because police arrive late if you call them for help and there is no one updating you regarding the case you have opened.”

Improved service

Lifeline Pietermaritzburg Director Sinikiwe Biyela says the Plessislaer Police Station’s management listened to the criticism from victims of abuse and improved their service. She says they also have a better working relationship with the police.

Biyela says before meeting in November victims had these complaints.

“Even though issues were reported in November last year, the station senior management took it as a lesson. They worked with the organisation very well to try and resolve some of the issues that were reported by the SABC in November last year. The main challenge that our victims are complaining about is that most of the perpetrators of gender-based violence are not being arrested.  Even if cases are opened they hardly hear any feedback from the police officers. Victims are left without any feedback and they do not know what happens.  Most of the time perpetrators are still roaming the streets and they feel that perpetrators have been given powers by the state.”

Stats at police station 

Chairperson of Act Now, Tebogo Lerole, says violence is a problem in the Pietermaritzburg area.

“We found some stats at the police station which are pretty scary and shocking especially coming from young men from this area. We are talking about young men between 20 and 30 years of age.  Apart from gender-based violence which is the challenge that we are here to deal with but we understand there is a big challenge regarding violence as an overall issue in this area and it has got to do with child abuse, to do with violence, car theft, but the scariest part is the deaths in this area.”

Gender-based violence stats in SA:

GBV hotspot

Meanwhile, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has been briefed by the Plessislaer police on the status of gender-based violence cases in their region which is regarded as one of the hot spots in the country.

“It is one of those police stations where we see the figures of reported cases of gender-based violence rising which therefore means, we have identified the area before you talk about the police station, we have identified the area as a hot spot and therefore as the Department of Social Development we decided to go to all the hotspots from the police themselves as to what are the challenges that they face and of course it is the usual challenges of the work that is very demanding when it comes to responding to gender-based violence.”

Some of the old unresolved gender-based violence cases will be reopened by the police.