Factors contributing to delays in the conviction process of child sexual abuse cases in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape
Jiya, Ntombizandile Eunice
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Despite the high reporting rate of child sexual abuse cases, the conviction rate in South Africa is low. According to the South African Police National Statistics, 2012/2013 (South Africa, 2012/2013), 66 196 incidents of sexual offences were reported between 2012 and 2013, while only a dismal 4 501 (6.8%) of these cases resulted in convictions. The aim of this study was to explore and describe the factors contributing to delays in the conviction process of child sexual abuse cases in the rural areas in the OR Tambo district of the Eastern Cape Province. The researcher used a quantitative research approach and the design chosen for this study was a cross sectional design. The study involves groups, such as social workers, magistrates, prosecutors and investigating officers of a carefully defined population of role players in child sexual abuse cases. The participants were sampled by using a purposive sampling technique. The participants included in the sample were from the Departments of Social Development and Justice, Child Welfare and the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit (FCS) of South African Police Service in the Oliver Tambo District that are dealing with sexual abuse cases. The researcher used a partially self-constructed questionnaire o explore participants’ views regarding factors causing delays in the conviction process of child sexual abuse cases. The data received from the questionnaire indicated that the participants have high caseloads with many cases not yet finalized. The most important factors causing delays in the conviction process according to the participants are: not enough social workers who have specialised training in Forensic Social Work; late DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA) results causing delays in the conviction process; not enough training in handling child sexual abuse cases; continued delays of court proceedings; absence of coordination between the different role players in child sexual abuse cases; too many cases to handle and not enough evidence to prosecute.
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