Rape Crisis report finds fault at Khayelitsha Court

The protests led by Rape Crisis outside Khayelitsha Court marked the end of 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. Photo by Tandeka Bafo

A monitoring report by Rape Crisis’ Rape Survivors Justice Campaign reveals that facilities at the Sexual Offences Court at Khayelitsha Court are not sensitive to the vulnerability of victims of sexual violence. The restrooms are not wheelchair or child-friendly and the report highlights the need for a separate entrance to the court building for survivors. The findings of the monitoring report and a memorandum were handed on Tuesday to a member of the portfolio committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Qubudile Dyantyi, by Rape Crisis as part of marking the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.

Rape Crisis is a Cape Town-based organisation established in 1976 to provide support to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), with offices in Khayelitsha, Athlone and Observatory.

Mandisa Mbotshelwa, an Advocacy Coordinator for Rape Crisis in Observatory, said that they protested outside Khayelitsha Court to make sure that the Sexual Offences courts adhere to regulations, like having proper facilities for rape survivors. “We found out that the Khayelitsha Court needs to have separate entrances for survivors so that they can avoid secondary trauma of being exposed to the public area of the court where they see the perpetrator,” she said.

Mbotshelwa also stated that the number of cases of rape reported in Khayelitsha is not known. “Many victims don’t report rapes because of being afraid and the secondary trauma when in trial,” she said.

The Rape Survivors Justice Campaign also raised concerns relating to the restrooms and the office of court support. According to the report, the restrooms have to be designed to avoid survivors and witnesses coming into physical contact with the accused. The campaign also wants the court support office to accommodate persons who are in a wheelchair.

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Speaking to Elitsha, some of the protestors from Khayelitsha said that they joined the protest by Rape Crisis to add their voices to the struggle against rape and GBV in the area.

Amanda Fuzile (20) said that she is afraid of wearing anything short because that would attract blame. “I’m very afraid to wear anything short because if anything happens to me I will be at fault [!] so I am here to support and give my voice.” She hopes the Sexual Offences Court will help survivors by giving them a voice.

Among the small crowd of about 30 protestors were young men from Khayelitsha. One of them, Ayanda Dywili (19), said that he has seen young boys and men in his community beating their girlfriends and wives to a pulp. He once tried to stop his neighbour from beating up his girlfriend and he was reprimanded that he is a child and must know his place.

Dwyili’s views were echoed by Lwazi Mazwi from Harare who said that he was there to support all women because he has sisters. He told Elitsha that a few years ago he helped a young girl who was raped and her eyes were taken out during the ordeal. The girl lived in the area of Makhaya and sadly the case is still ongoing and the victim no longer stays in Khayelitsha.

Dyantyi, who is an African National Congress MP, said that most of the demands have been met but acknowledged that a few still need to be answered. The memorandum of grievances, he said, contained little that was new and therefore must be a talking point not only during the 16 Days of Activism.

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