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The Importance of Thuthuzela Care Centres in South Africa’s Anti-Rape Strategy

The Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) are a beacon of hope for rape survivors in South Africa, a country with one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. These one-stop facilities provide a safe and supportive environment for survivors to receive medical attention, counseling, and legal assistance. TCCs were established as a response to the urgent need for an integrated strategy for preventing secondary victimisation, improving prosecution and supporting rape victims.

The Thuthuzela project is led by the NPA’s Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit (SOCA), in partnership with various departments and donors. The SOCA Unit has been working tirelessly to develop best practices and policies that aim to eradicate victimisation of women and children, while improving prosecution, particularly in the areas of sexual offences, maintenance, child justice and domestic violence.

The process of reporting a rape case to a TCC is simple and straightforward. A survivor can report a rape case directly to a TCC (based at community clinics or hospitals) or to a police station. The TCC staff will assist the survivor in getting immediate medical attention and arrange for counselling services. They will also assist the survivor in opening a criminal case, if they choose to do so. The staff will provide on-going support and court preparation, if the case goes to trial.

The TCCs offer a wide range of services to survivors, including a welcoming and comforting environment, medical examination, counselling, and transportation home. The medical examination is conducted by a doctor and a nurse, who explain the process and what clothing might be taken for evidence. The survivor is given a consent form to sign, which allows the doctor to conduct the examination. After the medical examination, there are bath or shower facilities available for the survivor’s use.

An investigation officer will interview the survivor and take their statement, while a social worker or nurse offers counseling. The nurse arranges for follow-up visits, treatment and medication for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV and AIDS. The survivor is offered transportation home by an ambulance or the investigating officer and, if necessary, arrangements for a place of safety.

Before the case goes to court, the survivor can consult with a specialist prosecutor, and receive court preparation from a victim assistant officer. The case manager provides an explanation of the outcome and update of the trial process.

The TCCs have been instrumental in reducing secondary victimisation and building a case ready for successful prosecution, are a critical part of South Africa’s anti-rape strategy and have helped to provide a voice to survivors who may have otherwise been silenced.
In conclusion, the Thuthuzela Care Centres represent a step forward in the fight against rape in South Africa. They are a testament to the hard work and dedication of the NPA’s Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit (SOCA) and its partners, and their commitment to ending victimisation of women and children. The VRCID Social Development team frequently refers clients to the Thuthuzela Care Centre and is grateful for their specialised assistance, making their services accessible to all, including vulnerable and homeless communities.

The Thuthuzela Care Centre is located inside the Karl Bremer Hospital and can be reached on 021 918 1321. The hospital is situated at the corner of Frans Conradie Drive and Mike Pienaar Boulevard in Bellville, with a postal code of 7530.

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