Media Statement: FEDUSA to confront Gender-Based Violence case dumping with Western Cape Police Commissioner 

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has formally written to Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile, the Western Cape Provincial Police Commissioner, seeking urgent talks concerning the severe issue of gender-based violence (GBV) and the alarming rate of GBV-related cases being dismissed in the courts across the province.

News24 has reported that Reagen Allen, the Western Cape’s Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC told them that the department’s Court Watching Brief Unit found that from April to September 2023, an alarming number of 243 cases at 25 courts linked to 58 police stations were dismissed. Notably, 89 of these were GBV cases, primarily due to police inefficiencies.

As a trade union federation, FEDUSA is deeply concerned about the implications of this alarming practice for vulnerable groups in the Western Cape and elsewhere in the country where it is taking place.

FEDUSA expresses profound dissatisfaction with the continuous prevalence of GBV, the sluggish response from authorities, and the frequent dismissal of cases. This situation starkly highlights the systemic shortcomings in tackling this crisis, and it highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive reform in how GBV is handled to ensure that survivors obtain the justice and support they rightfully deserve.

The persistent failure by authorities to effectively address these incidents is unacceptable. The fact that such cases are still being dismissed from the court roll raises grave concerns about the efficacy of the justice system in combating this crisis.

The dismissal of 89 GBV cases points to a broader systemic failure to provide justice for survivors. Contributing factors include inadequate evidence collection, procedural mistakes, lack of witness cooperation, institutional biases, societal stigma, and a fear of retribution, which collectively deter survivors from seeking legal action and hinder the prosecution of perpetrators.

The failure to prosecute these cases not only denies justice to survivors but also perpetuates a culture of impunity regarding GBV. This sends a dangerous message that perpetrators can act without consequence, further fuelling the cycle of violence and putting countless lives at risk. Moreover, it diminishes trust in the judicial system, discouraging survivors from coming forward and perpetuating a culture of silence.

FEDUSA is hopeful for a productive dialogue with the commissioner to explore effective solutions to eradicate GBV in the province and to foster a safer environment for women and children.