The Rape Survivors Justice Campaign (RSJC) and its coalition partners intend to hold government accountable for the promised roll out of specialised sexual offences courts. These courts are specialised in offering the right kind of support to rape survivors when they need it most, and it is this factor that we believe is key to […]
As discussed in our previous article, attrition of rape cases in South Africa is a matter of serious concern. The RAPSSA Report found that there were many different factors influencing the attrition of rape cases as they move through the criminal justice system. Some of these were due to the inefficiency and inconsistency of investigating […]
Crime is a systemic problem in South Africa and every year a huge number of cases are reported to the police. In 2017, for example, there were 49 660 sexual offences cases reported to the police in South Africa. But in how many of these cases does the offender actually go to jail? You would […]
Rape is a violent crime in which a person uses sexual acts to intentionally harm and hurt another. We cannot talk about rape in polite terms or hide the truth about it. Rape is an abuse of power and an abuse of sex.
It is important for rape survivors to understand the exact meaning of the laws on rape for two reasons:
- Firstly, a rape survivor needs enough information about the law to know whether her case has a chance of succeeding or not.
- Secondly, the survivor needs to know exactly what is expected of them to prove that the rapist is guilty in the eyes of the law.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (Act 32 of 2007) has been in effect in South Africa since 16 December 2007. This law states that it is a crime to intentionally commit a sexual act against another person without that person’s consent.
The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign has been working for almost two years advocating for the establishment of a sexual offences court at the Khayelitsha court. While the advocacy and engagement process is never easy we feel we have made some steady progress in working towards this goal. As we plan our next protest to advocate for sexual offences courts during the 16 Days of Activism campaign we thought we would reflect on just how far we have come since we started this project in 2016.
Early on in the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign we, together with community members, expressed support for the establishment of a sexual offences court in Khayelitsha. During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence in December 2016 we gathered as a community in front of the Khayelitsha court to demand a dedicated sexual offences court be built. At the end of our protest during 16 Days of Activism, we handed over a memorandum to this effect to the Department of Justice.
Currently in South Africa survivors of sexual assault and rape often feel that the criminal justice system does not support them. This is why we are fighting for specialised sexual offences courts specialised sexual offences courts that only deal with sexual offences cases and provide special services to survivors. Therefore it is very important to understand exactly what is expected and required in order to prove that a rapist is guilty in the eyes of the law.
From the law and the court’s perspective there are certain things that are essential in making a solid case and having the case result in a conviction. To help you we have put together a list of the key steps you must take in order to provide the prosecutor and the courts with the strongest case possible against your assailant.
What evidence is needed to build a strong rape case: What can survivors do?
- Physical evidence
If you have been raped or assaulted do not remove your clothes or wash. Go straight to the nearest police station and request medical attention. There will be physical evidence on your body and clothes that will link the rapist to the crime and it is important that this evidence is collected as soon as possible after the rape. Physical or DNA evidence fades within 72 hours (three days) after the event so the sooner you have this evidence collected and submitted to the police the better.
If you know of a nearby hospital that is a designated as a forensic unit for assessing rape cases you may go straight there but it is important to note that not all hospitals or health facilities deal with rape cases.
Yesterday marked one week since our “small” victory in a relatively small committee room on the fifth floor of one of the buildings of Parliament. I use quotes because actually it was no small victory and here is why:
The Parliament of South Africa has two main functions. The one is to make and pass laws (legislate) and the other is to oversee the actions of government departments (provide oversight). However, most of these functions are not performed in the National Assembly or the National Council of Provinces and broadcasted over national television with larger-than-life politicians waving their arms and making elaborate arguments. No, most of Parliament’s work happens when Parliamentary Oversight or Portfolio Committees, consisting of members of parliament, meet in much smaller committee rooms to discuss issues relating to the specific portfolio. This can include pieces of legislation, reports or actions taken by the relevant government department.
The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign (RSJC) welcomes the official launch of the Boschfontein Sexual Offences Court on 24 March 2017 by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The RSJC holds government accountable for the promised rollout of sexual offences courts across the country in order to ensure that survivors of sexual offences have access to such a specialised court. In the light hereof, we applaud government for honouring its commitment.
However, we note with concern that there are still, according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s official website, only 49 sexual offences courts nationally. This means that the vast majority of communities still do not have access to a survivor-centred criminal justice system to address sexual offences. One such community is Khayelitsha, where we gathered during 16 Days of Activism 2016 to demand that a sexual offences court be established to serve this community. Unfortunately it is still unclear when this will happen.