The South African Police Service said it has signed a procurement contract with a company to supply evidence collection kits used in rape cases. In a statement, the SAPS said the distribution plan had been designed to ensure that there is stock at the stations for the next three years.
“The supplier will provide 13 different types of evidence collection kits including, adult sexual assault kits, paediatric sexual assault kits and Buccal (swab) sample collection kits.
The first consignment of kits was received recently and they are being strategically distributed to the various provinces, to augment their existing stocks,” the SAPS said. Recently, the DA’s spokesman on police issues, Andrew Whitfield, said there was a shortage of rape kits across South Africa.
Whitfield remarked that 76 percent of police stations did not have adult rape kits, while 69 percent did not have child rape kits. But national police spokesperson, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, denied that this was the case.
“At the end of last month, a request was made to all provinces to do a physical count to provide figures per province to head office. On 5 August, the figures reflected that we have an average of more than 45 kits per police station,” Naidoo said. Whitfield, however insisted that the average calculation was misleading.
“I am not working on averages but on specifics. It is not acceptable for police stations to not have rape kits available. While there may be ‘an average’ of 45 kits, they definitely do not exist at each station. Some stations are very rural and it may take hours to get the kits there,” said Whitfield.
Naidoo said a dispute with the supplier forced the SAPS to cancel its contract after allegations of corruption arose between the supplier and members of the SAPS.
Before this, however, the kits were procured at national level and distributed to stations around the country, with the numbers managed on a central database. “As time progressed, we realised that the number of kits were reducing.
It was then that the provinces were instructed by head office to start procuring the kits on quotation basis as and when the need arose pending negotiations for a new supplier.
However, as this was happening, the national system was not being utilised, only provinces were keeping records hence the national system reflects a whole lot of zeros. Having said this, I can say that service delivery is not compromised. We should start being worried if a complainant came forward to say he/she has gone to a police station to report a case of rape or sexual assault and police is unable to provide the desired service. Thus far, we have not had such reports,” said Naidoo.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, said he is relieved that the matter was corrected with the urgency it deserved. “We take the reporting and investigations of rapes seriously, especially when it relates to crimes against women and children. I stand by statements made in my past budget vote speeches: we will prioritise and intensify the fight against crimes targeting women and children and vulnerable groups,” said Cele.