Imbali Township under the Plessislaer police jurisdiction in Pietermaritzburg is a hot spot for gender-based-violence (GBV).
The lack of support for GBV victims, gender inequality and drug/alcohol abuse have been identified as contributing factors in the rise of GBV cases in the area.
Plessislaer police spokesperson Sergeant Sfiso Gwala said it was concerning and worrying that Imbali has once again become a hot spot for such crimes. However, Gwala said they have plans in place to curb these cases. He said throughout their policing precinct, Imbali records the highest number of GBV cases.
“We have established that alcohol or some drugs are a contributing factor to the problem. After drinking, individuals go home and start assaulting their partners. The victims open a case and later the perpetrator comes and sweet-talks the victim into withdrawing the case, claiming that he will never do it again, and that he was being controlled by alcohol. The victims listen to them but they will continue beating them again and more cases will be opened,” said Gwala.
He said as Imbali is now a hot spot they will strengthen police visibility in the area and also have operations to teach people about GBV.
He also urged the victims not to withdraw cases even when the perpetrators asked them to do so.
“They must let the law take its course so that the perpetrators will be punished and not do it again,” he said.
Pietermaritzburg LifeLine director Sinikiwe Biyela said as long as the victims were not getting any support from the police and their families, GBV cases will continue to grow.
She blamed the justice system for failing the victims by not giving the perpetrators tough sentences.
“The justice system needs to be strong. The perpetrators needs to know that if they are abusing their partners there will be consequences. The only time the justice system attends to GBV cases is when something really bad happens to the victim.”
Thenjiwe Ngcobo, a director of the Incema non-profit organisation which works closely with Plessislaer police station in dealing with GBV cases, said a lack of support for victims and gender inequality between children when growing up also contributes in the growing number of GBV cases.
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She said based on their experience working with the Plessislaer police, they have established that most of the perpetrators were being protected either by victims or families which makes them (perpetrators) feel comfortable with continuing to abuse their partners.
“What we always say is that if you want to protect the person who is an abuser, you need to protect him by reporting him so he can be arrested. That way he will learn that what he did was wrong and he will not repeat it,” she said.
One of the victims from Imbali Unit J who asked not to be named said the issue with GBV cases is that they are not taken seriously until someone lands in hospital or dies.