TWENTY rape kits dating back eight years were found yesterday intact at an Eastern Cape police station, that were never sent to the forensics laboratory.
DA representative in parliament’s portfolio committee on police, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, posted a picture of the kits found at Berlin Police Station near King William’s Town on Twitter yesterday afternoon.
The committee is visiting stations around the province this week.
Kohler-Barnard said: “Every once in a while you hit a station that you know should be shut down. This is one of them.”
She said management at the station was in shambles.
The human resources manager had been away since September and the station commander is not a qualified policeman – he is still completing his studies.
Kohler-Barnard said the station was in such a state that not even the toilets were working.
“They have a maintenance budget, but the commander clearly does not know how to use it,” she said.
She said the rape kits found at that station dated back to 2006 and the excuse given was that there were no suspects.
“Rape victims believe that once they provide their DNA with the rape kit, it goes to the labs and an effort is made to find the perpetrator,” she said.
The chairwoman of the committee, Annelize van Wyk, said what Kohler-Barnard had done was unethical because the committee had not yet issued its report.
Van Wyk vowed to take the matter up with the Speaker of parliament.
But she agreed it was unacceptable that the rape kits were left unattended for so long and that the police were failing the community.
She said she had already reported this to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who agreed that someone needed to be held to account.
“The police are given a budget of R76-billion. As the community and as the nation we expect the best possible service from them.
“If police feel that they do not want to work then they are more than welcome to leave the service,” Van Wyk said. Lesley-Ann Foster, executive director of Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, said it was atrocious that rape kits were not being sent to labs.
“We are surprised this is happening. It is really a blatant display of lack of due diligence by the state. They are obliged to provide access to justice for rape survivors,” she said. Provincial police spokeswoman Brigadier Marinda Mills said they were not aware of the issue concerning the rape kits.
“As soon as we have received a report from the portfolio committee then the provincial commissioner [Lieutenant General Celiwe Binta] will comment.
Kohler-Barnard said Binta should “hang her head in shame”.
“There are problems in relation to policing in the province. It makes you wonder who makes these appointments. The DA will advise, from today, that that station be closed, nothing is working there, it’s just not working,” she said. — email@example.com