Angels Care has opened a crisis centre in July 2015 to help children who are victims of gender-based violence, abuse and neglect. (See the articles written in the local newspapers)

 

It is a sad fact that approximately 3800 women and children are sexually assaulted on a daily basis in South Africa, whilst only 0.4% of sexual offenders are held accountable for their actions. Results obtained from cases that are reported shows that most victims come from areas of extreme poverty such as the informal settlements around Howick and 60% of cases are children less than 12 years of age. A closer analysis of the Howick area and the governmental services available to assist such children indicate that the greater Howick area (Umngeni Municipality) provides very little assistance from the Department of Social Development in the deployment of social workers to assist the numerous children who are victims of sexual abuse. In terms of the services supplied by the South African Police Services, they are exceptionally under resourced, the closest place that children can obtain proper medical assistance is at hospitals in Pietermaritzburg which are at least 60 kilometres way from their homes and schools. Consequently survivors often have to wait several hours at police stations and have to repeat their “story” to a number of different officers before being assisted, with some cases of abuse where officers even discourage the reporting of the incident. Only after the SAPS have opened a case will they then help with transport to a medical facility for the survivor to receive treatment and where forensic evidence will be collected. This prolonged and challenging process often leads to the survivor feeling like they have been through a form a “secondary assault” and they are left without hope and certainly without the assurance of on-going assistance.

 

As the Howick SAPS is situated directly across the road from Angels Care Centre, they have welcomed the building of a rape crisis Centre at Angels Care where there will be a child friendly facility where their officers can come and take statements from children and their caregivers and ensure cases are opened, medical examinations completed, vital DNA evidence collected and the cases and followed up through the National Prosecuting Authority. As the Centre will have a permanently employed forensic nurse and social worker, and agreed on working protocols with the NPA, SAPS, Dept. of Social Development and other NGO’s and NPO’s, the Centre will be able to conduct a risk assessment to ensure the survivors safety, provide counselling services and access to a forensic nurse, as well as be a place where the survivors can meet with relevant members of the SAPS and NPA when necessary.

 

Centre’s, which can provide access to all the necessary social, medial and legal services, required to ensure the survivor not only receives care and assistance in one location and in a timely manner, are essential in South Africa. Through medical and physcho-social healing, such centres will restore dignity to survivors and provide a mechanism whereby a case can be followed through to the point where the perpetrator is more likely to be identified and ultimately convicted. We are hopeful that in the same way as the government has set up Thutuzela Centres in certain hospitals nationwide that provide a holistic service to victims of sexual abuse, the rape crisis centre at Angels Care Centre could be the first of many centres operated by South African non profit organisations that have good working relationships with all the relevant governmental stakeholders. Such centres could not only monitor levels of abuse in more rural communities, but also ensure that vital forensic evidence is actually collected and used to ensure the identification and conviction of offenders, and bring about emotional healing to survivors. Most importantly, the centres will be a welcoming and safe place for women and children to come when they need help the most!

 

Where is the Centre located?

Angels Care Centre is situated at 38 Morling Street, Howick, KZN, South Africa – directly across the road from Howick SAPS. The centre is also a few meters away from the local government clinic.

 

Who can obtain assistance at the Crisis Centre?

 

All children up to the age of 18 – both boys and girls.

 

What facilities are offered at the Centre?

 

  • Reception/waiting area
  • Examination room
  • Showers and toilets
  • Administration office
  • Child friendly room for statement taking and counselling
  • Recovery room- somewhere to spend the night if necessary
  • Kitchen area

 

What services will be offered at the Centre?

 

  • Counselling services
  • Medical treatment and collection of forensic evidence when necessary. A professional nurse will be available seven days a week and someone on call after hours
  • Legal intervention. The Centre will provide a direct link with courts through co-operating with investigating officers and the National Prosecuting Authority
  • Caregivers- onsite 24 hours
  • Police officer- on call 24 hours

 

Process to be followed

 

  1. On arrival at the facility a nurse and social worker will provide information to the survivor regarding the procedures to be performed and she/he (or their caregiver) will sign a consent form for the medical examination.
  2. A social worker or forensic nurse will counsel the survivor so that she/he feels at ease and knows that she/he is in a protected, caring environment.
  3. A trained doctor or professional nurse will conduct a medical examination and collect physical evidence if necessary.
  4. The survivor will be provided with the opportunity to have a shower and change his/her clothes (care packs with toiletries and a change of clothing will be provided).
  5. An investigating officer (FCS) will be called to take a statement and open a case. The investigating officer should take receipt of evidence collection kit/s, the J88, the section 212(4) statements as well as the SAP 308 from the health care practitioner who have completed the medical examination and make a statement to this effect.
  6. The survivor will receive appropriate medication i.e. morning after pill, 28 days of anti-retroviral treatment, antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B vaccine, anti-tetanus. Follow up medical appointments are made after 14 days and 6 weeks after the initial examination.
  7. On-going counselling sessions will be arranged.
  8. SAPS or the care centre will transport the survivor home or to a place of safety.
  9. The SAPS will report back to the survivor if they are required to give evidence in court. If so, the National Prosecuting Authority will continue with the court process.

 

What should I do if I am a victim of rape or gender based violence?

 

If you have been raped it is important to get to a health care facility (crisis centre) as quickly as possible to:

  • Obtain medical care, treatment and advice
  • Collect evidence to support your legal case

 

To assist in the collection of DNA evidence, victims of sexual assault should:

  • NOT change their clothing
  • NOT shower or wash any part of their body
  • REPORT the incident to the police (This will occur at the Centre)
  • GO to a medical doctor within 48 hours for DNA evidence to be collected (This will take place at the Centre)

 

How can you help the Centre?

 

  • Volunteer to help with your time
  • Donations
  • Word of mouth – tell people in the community about the facilities and services offered by the Centre

 

Relevant contact details:

 

Angels Care Centre: 033-3303553

SAPS: 1011

Edendale TCC: 0333954325