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Police Lament Lack Of Shelters For Abused Women

Staff Writer
FRANCISTOWN: Senior Superintendent Manurse Rakgole of the Botswana Police says that the police in the North have a difficult time helping victims of abuse as far as shelter is concerned.

She was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Office of the Ombudsman last week. She said that most victims of abuse or rape would not want to return home but would rather go somewhere, where it is safe but in the North there are no such facilities.

"We do not have enough shelters to keep the women who feel unsafe at home," she says.

Actually, the police have no shelters at all as they depend on shelters that belong to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Southern part of the country. She said that here they have only one place, but it is for children. "On this we have only SOS Village but that is where we take children. As for women in extreme cases we would take them to Gaborone to those shelters," she added. Rakgole mentioned lack of shelters as one of the things that prevent the police from effectively handling cases of violence against women.

Rakgole said that in some cases they have to ask relatives to stay with the survivor. "We sometimes ask relatives to stay with the victims while we are still looking for the perpetrator because it would not be safe for them to go home while the suspect is still lurking out there," she added.

Rakgole said that the other problem the police are

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having was in statement recording. "We have to take statements and supply lawyers with the statements and it is a challenge to the police because sometimes the way our statements are recorded suspects end up going scot-free," he said.

She said that sometimes important facts would be missing and people who are supposed to do time for their violent crimes, end up going free.

She further shed light on issues where the women would want to go back to the police and withdraw matters after being abused or battered and say they would have a hard time.

"Women withdraw cases after being assaulted. We have now taken a step to refuse those withdrawals unless it is done in court by the magistrate. Even the magistrate will tell you that you are just a witness," she added.

Rakgole further complained about mothers who withdraw defilement cases against culprits for material gain. "Mothers will withdraw defilement cases against their children's  will because of promise of marriage or money but we never allow it because when those children grow up they will want to know why their abusers were not prosecuted," she said. She urged prosecutors to be firm on such issues.

"Prosecutors are not allowed to withdraw matters because sometimes they can do it out of wrong reasons," stated the police boss.



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