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Forensics is Gauteng’s answer to gender violence

JOBURG - More than 20 social workers have been drafted into a forensic training programme to equip them with skills to deal with gender-based violence.

The Gauteng government has turned to forensic science to try and contain the spiraling crimes of gender-based violence.

More than 20 social workers from the province’s government institutions and civil society organisations have enrolled for a three month specialised Forensic Social Workers course. The course will be run by the University of Cape Town in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education and Community Safety.

At the launch of the programme, Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said forensic science was Gauteng’s answer to the growing incidents of gender-based violence which mainly affected women and children.

“We want these social workers, from both public institutions and civil society organisations, to come fully equipped to deal with the spiraling problem of gender violence, and to be able to preserve and collect data in these criminal cases to ensure heightened conviction rates in our courts,” said Mazibuko.

“Because we have not been using forensic science to solve these cases, many of them were being thrown out of court on grounds that there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute and to obtain a conviction in the case.

“The other element of the forensic training of the social workers relates to teaching them how to compile and write a pre-sentencing report which has not been up to scratch so far.”

She said the course would teach social workers to present a well-researched and documented report for the court on which to base its sentencing of the offender. “Without a well-written report, many offenders often get off the hook with a light sentence, yet they committed heinous crimes that deserved much harsher sentences.”

Mazibuko said the Gauteng project was the first of its kind and included social workers from the departments of social development, education, the police, and the NGOs that work closely with victims of gender violence. “Gauteng always leads and others follow, and I am optimistic that other provinces will copy us and eventually make this programme a national affair,” she said.


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