#JusticeProtest: Demand for upgrade to Khayelitsha Sexual Offences Court
Cape Town - Close to 100 people gathered outside the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Western Cape regional offices in the Cape Town CBD today to protest for justice for rape survivors and appropriate access to justice.
Rape Crisis, the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign (RSJC), community-based organisations and Khayelitsha residents took part in the #JusticeProtest, demanding that the Khayelitsha Sexual Offences Court (SOC) be properly upgraded for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
Similar protests calling for upgrades by Rape Crisis have been held for the past six years outside the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court.
Concerns raised by protesters related to the location of the court, public restrooms and the inaccessibility of the facilities for persons with disabilities.
One of the upgrades requested is a mobile shipping container in the courtyard which will accommodate Rape Crisis court support services and provide private access to restrooms for survivors.
Rape Crisis locum advocacy specialist Jessica Bobbert said: “Last year, the RSJC was promised that this upgrade – the retrofitted container – would be finalised by the end of February 2021, and on this promise we agreed to not protest outside the Regional Office of the Department of Justice during 16 Days of Activism. February has passed, and no progress has been made.”
Nomvula Spelman, 58, from Khayelitsha said: “We were promised that we were going to get a container at the Khayelitsha court, but there’s nothing, and that’s why we are here.
“The container is for the survivors. We need private courts. We don’t want to be mixed with the people there so that we can talk (openly) about what happened to us.”
Rape Crisis advocacy co-ordinator Mandisa Mbotshelwa said: “We think that it is a must for survivors to have their special court with their special personnel, with a separate entrance, because imagine when a survivor is entering the court, meeting the perpetrator on the way to the court, the survivor will definitely break down and will not feel comfortable to testify inside the courtroom. When those things happen, people drop their cases. They don’t want to go to court anymore, because it’s a terrible place for them.”
A memorandum of demands was handed to the Director of Justice Operations, Noluvuyo Bekwa, at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Western Cape.