Call to improve Sexual Offences Court in Khayelitsha
Cape Town - Rape Crisis and the Rape Survivor’s Justice Campaign (RSJC) are unrelenting in their attempts to get the Western Cape Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to address the poor conditions of the Khayelitsha Sexual Offences Court, for victims of sexual assault and rape.
RSJC, an initiative of Rape Crisis’, has written an open letter addressed to the Acting Director of Court Operations, Noluvuyo Bekwa, over the department’s ‘ongoing inaction and set of broken promises’ related to upgrades for the court located at Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court.
These specialised courts deal with sexual offences, in a manner that should be victim-friendly and safe.
“The Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court has been identified for the establishment of a sexual offences court for more than six years, yet it still does not have all the elements required to be one. Survivors continue to encounter their perpetrators when trying to access court support services and the one available restroom.
“Further to this, the court remains inaccessible to persons with disabilities. We reassert that this is wholly unacceptable and that the community of Khayelitsha deserves better,” read the letter.
In 2018, RSJC submitted a report making recommendations for upgrades. These recommendations included a retrofitted mobile shipping container for victim support services to be rendered with a private restroom facility. The finalisation for this was promised at the end of February, according to RSJC.
Rape Crisis locum advocacy specialist Jessica Bobbert said: “The process of constantly following up, demanding to be heard, and asking the Department to respond is frustrating and gruelling but at the end of the day, it's undoubtedly worth it.
“We're advocating for rape survivors in South Africa to have access to justice and to the specialised services they have been promised by the government.
“We're committed to ensuring that their rights are realised and that they will not have to experience further trauma at the hands of a system designed to support them.”