Victim-friendly facilities needed in Khayelitsha – Phumzile van Damme

DA MP says rape survivors forced to walk past the accused at magistrates court

Minister Masutha must prioritise victim-friendly facilities at Khayelitsha Magistrates Court 

28 November 2018

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted an oversight inspection at the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court to assess the status of victim-friendly facilities.

In 2017, Khayelitsha was among the ten precincts with the highest number of reported sexual offence cases in the Western Cape. Despite the high instances of sexual violence in the community, the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court has not been declared a sexual offences court.

The DA met with the court administrators, who expressed their concerns regarding the safety and protection of rape survivors.

Rape survivors and young children who are victims of sexual offences are forced to walk past the accused, or even wait in the same space. This is due to the limited space at the court.

The court’s administration has proposed separate entrances for victims of sexual violence, however, progress in this regard has been hampered due to red tape.

The DA was told that counsellors often counsel sexual abuse survivors in a room shared with other court staff or in a tiny interview room in the holding cells below the court.

The conditions at that court have essentially created an environment where sexual abuse survivors experience secondary victimisation and point towards the need for the court to be declared a sexual offences court.

The DA calls on the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, to not only prioritise victim-friendly facilities at the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court, but at courts across the country.

Victims of sexual and gender-based violence must feel safe and be able to testify in a friendly environment given the trauma they have experienced. Improved, safe and friendly facilities will also encourage those afraid to report abuse to do so.

Victims of sexual violence and abuse deserve to be treated with the utmost care and dignity and it is incumbent upon the ANC national government to ensure that these facilities are up to standard.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Spokesperson on Corruption, 28 November 2018