n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Is domestic violence being policed in South Africa?

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



According to the 2005 World Health Organisation's study on domestic violence, it is a serious and widespread phenomenon that continues to affect many family relationships worldwide. South Africa is no different to the world; domestic violence in South Africa is committed across geographical, religious, racial and gender boundaries. The Domestic Violence Act (DVA), No.116 of 1998 places positive legal duties on the South African Police Service to act. The South African Police Service's (SAPS) response to domestic violence is managed through administrative procedures outlined in SAPS National Instruction 7 of 1999. This type of response from the SAPS has resulted in numerous complaints being lodged with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).The purpose of this article was to find out if the SAPS is policing domestic violence in South Africa. If it is indeed policing domestic violence, then the police response should be in accordance with the duties and powers of the SAPS, as set out in section 205(3) of the Constitution. Using the qualitative approach, the author examined the complaints levelled against the police by victims of domestic violence. The study involved interviews with victims of domestic violence, police officials and a record review of official documents relating to complaints of domestic violence. The data was categorically analysed to determine how the police handled these complaints. The findings suggest that the present police response is not in accordance with section 205(3) of the Constitution. Based on this finding, the study proposes that the present police response be changed to prevent, combat and effectively investigate domestic violence in terms of section 205(3) of the Constitution, so that the crime, the criminal and the victim are equally dealt with.

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