Victims of crime suffer further trauma - cases postponed due to alleged water problems at Soweto court
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Scores of Johannesburg children who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse are now facing further trauma due to alleged water problems at the Protea Court, Soweto.
Residents and local organisations say the court was forced to shut its doors yesterday (Friday) because the building was without water, leaving cases to be postponed.
But this was not the first time the legal premises have encountered water problems, an issue exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic which requires stringent hygienic protocols to be followed in order to fight the deadly virus.
Dr Shaheda Omar, the Clinical Director at the Teddy Bear Clinic, who has offices on the court premises, said that the building has faced water problems since last year.
“There have been problems with the water pressure, the water going on and off and the toilets are often not working,” she said.
While the Protea Court’s alleged water problems put those in and around the building at a coronavirus risk, Omar said that it also affects its operations, particularly when it comes to children.
“Our child victims and their families are not able to get the justice they deserve because the continuous water issues have meant that their cases are being postponed and this causes them even more trauma.”
Omar said the young victims of abuse and their loved ones visit their offices near the court and that they have had to even get donated water tanks installed at the premises in order for them to consult with their clients.
“We have had to make provisions for water to be made available to them, but it is not adequate and they can’t even take the water inside the court with them because it is restricted at the entry point.”
Despite the water issues at the court, Soweto residents who live near the court say that the neighbouring houses and surroundings are not facing the same problems and that it is just the court building itself.
Omar hopes that the water problems at the Protea Court can be addressed soon, as it has affected the emotional and physical wellbeing of her child clients and their families.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. This issue causes children even more trauma and anxiety because their cases being postponed by the court, has meant that they have also not had sufficient access to intervention and support.”
Omar added that the lack of an adequate water supply at the Soweto court has also put youngsters and their families at a coronavirus risk, which is particularly concerning as Gauteng is currently being hit by a third wave of infections.
The Gauteng Department of Justice did not respond to inquiries regarding the alleged water problems at the Protea Court.
Meanwhile, the virus has also hit close to home for those at Rand Water as their Customer Service Centre (CSC) number 0860 10 10 60 will be temporarily unavailable for 10 days due the rise of coronavirus infections in the province.
“The organisation has taken the decision to allow its staff members to be home-based, in an effort to protect them from being exposed to the third wave of Covid-19.”
Hospitals in Johannesburg, have recently also been affected by water problems.
Earlier this month, an executive at utility Rand Water, which supplies water to the Gauteng province, said an engineering glitch had led to the failure of two transformers, disrupting water supply to communities on the West Rand, parts of the vast Soweto township, as well as major health institutions, such as the Rahima Moosa Hospital and Helen Joseph Hospital.
This has prompted the disaster relief group Gift of the Givers to commence with the drilling of boreholes at eight possible mapped at Helen Joseph Hospital, yesterday.
“The situation demands an urgent response, as this is an emergency that affects the normal functioning of the hospitals, now seriously challenged by the Covid-19 third wave. Water is critical for every type of procedure, for hygiene and infection control, and an uninterrupted supply is non-negotiable,” founder Imtiaz Sooliman said in a statement.
Imtiaz added that Gift of the Givers teams would, on Saturday, pump borehole water into ten giant tanks, and from there, via booster pumps, into the Rahima Moosa Hospital infrastructure, providing the institution’s total daily requirement of 130 000 litres of uninterrupted water supply.