The Sexual Offences Indaba has been held annually for the past four years as a way of improving the implementation of the sexual offences laws and the services offered by Thuthuzela Care Centres. The Thuthuzela Care Centre model has been cited as a best practice model by the United Nations and has been introduced in other countries. These projects have been supported and made possible with funding from USAID, UNICEF and the Danish Government.
Thuthuzela Care Centres are an all-inclusive service for rape victims, located in public hospitals. The aim of TCCs is to provide:
- Reception of rape victims, explaining the services offered and legal processes
- A medico-legal examination
- Prevention of pregnancy and treatment for sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV
- Bath or shower facilities, refreshments and a change of clothing
- Transportation home or to a place of safety
- Referrals to police, psychological and other services and follow-up support.
At some TCCs it is also possible for the victim to make a statement to the police and open a case on-site. Some TCCs also offer longer-term psychological counselling. They are also linked to specialised sexual offences courts. This is a current list of Thuthuzela Care Centres in south Africa.
Advocate Thoko Majokweni
is the Special Director of the Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority. At the Sexual Offences Indaba, she spoke of the need to keep on monitoring the courts and TCCs:
“We know TCC is a best practise model but we should not think that we have found the perfect solution for every context. We must ensure we are data driven in everything we do. We mustn’t adopt a one size fits all approach when we develop protocols even while we follow standard operating procedures.
We need to “Macdonaldise” the TCCs to ensure they all operate at the same high standard. We need to increase the risk for perpetrators and manage the issue of repeat offenders and remember how many cases are not reported to the police. We are churning out more acquittals than convictions and we need to change this.
We need to prevent first even while we respond appropriately. The IDMT did some research into prevention. They found that perpetrators rape because of feelings of inferiority, poor communication skills, feeling emotionally abandoned, being isolated with few friends, finding challenges to forming relationships and so on. Each department needs to think about how they will approach prevention in this light.
We need to keep track of prevalence of rape with TCC’s in sites positioned in areas where the rape rates are high. There are currently 45 sites in place with 27 fully established sites.
Where are we now and where do we want to go? We need to reflect honestly so that we can take the struggle forward in a serious manner because the situation with regard to sexual offences in our country is still very bad.”