The reinstatement of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit must be done without delay. In a response to a reply for the MEC for Safety and Liaison, Ghishma Barry, as to when the unit will be reinstated, she said “although no specific date has been given, this matter is receiving priority”. She further said 27 units will be established, at each of the 27 clusters in the province, consisting of 272 members.

The Democratic Alliance has campaigned for a number of years for the re-instatement of these units and will continue to pursue this matter. Children and women are extremely vulnerable members of our society and the state has a duty to ensure that they are adequately protected.

The decision to disband the FCS units which formed part of the ANC’s attempts to centralise all departments of the police service under the national commissioner – even though every study at the time as well as the international best practice mandated the expansion, not the dismantling, of specialised units of this nature – was nonsensical.

The ANC, as it does with all its policies, puts its own agenda ahead of the agenda of all South Africans.

Nonetheless, the ANC’s U-turn on this matter is welcomed and Police Minister Nathi Mthetwa’s comments regarding the possible reintroduction of specialised units need to be acted upon.

The disbanding in 2006 of the specialised units in South Africa runs contrary to both commonsense and international best practice. This is particularly so when it comes to the specialised Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit. Studies confirm the disastrous effects the disbanding of these units have had on crime in South Africa, particularly in terms of assisting victims in using specialised skills and detective work. The Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Rapcan) has found that the policy objectives to prioritise combating crime against women and children simply cannot be realised as a result of the dismantling of FCS unit. Similarly, a study by the Institute for Security Studies on the impact of the re-structuring of the FCS units confirms that the quality of service provided has weakened and that SA is now out of step with developments in comparable countries.

Real evidence of the disastrous impact of disbanding these units in our province is on page 54 of the 2007/2008 annual report of the SAPS for the Eastern Cape.

In an overview of family violence and sexual offences cases for the year 2006/7 it reveals that 1160 cases were finalised and went to court. In 2007/8 only 728 cases were finalised. That is for persons younger than 18. For persons older than 18 in 2006/7, 1249 cases went to court, and in 2007/8 only 875 cases went to court.

This misguided policy by the ANC of disbanding specialised units has done tremendous damage.

Four children are murdered in South Africa every day and child murders are up 31 percent since the FCS units were disbanded in 2006. Prior to this decision, child murders in South Africa were decreasing. In 2007/2008, 1410 cases of child murder were reported – 20.4percent more than in the previous year.

A report compiled by Solidarity Helping Hand said there were in the region of 60 child rapes reported in the country daily. It further states that 88 percent of child rapes were never reported.

Furthermore, 43 percent of Childline South Africa’s cases involve sexually abused children. Children are also frequently misused as prostitutes – in Johannesburg alone it is estimated that there are 10000 child prostitutes.

These statistics are indeed horrifying, and a nation cannot stand back when children are subject to such maltreatment.

For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 082 775 3444.