RAPE is a capital crime that affects the victim physically and emotionally. It has been noted that a female has a greater chance of being raped in South Africa, than learning how to read.
Whether this statement is true or not, the reality is that rape is happening every day all around us. Turning to look the other way, won’t solve this increasing crime. Now’s the time to get informed, to stand up and to address this devastating crime face on!
The sad reality is that many rape victims don’t report the incident they’ve endured to the SAPS, for various reasons. One being the poor and unsympathetic service of some police officers. There have been many reports of police officers being rude and unhelpful, during the process of reporting a rape incident. There have even been some reported cases of police officers refusing to take the victims’ statement and/or purposefully sabotaging the case. That’s the last thing a rape victim needs.
Support, empathy, plus valuable and sufficient service should be non-negotiable, not only in a rape case – but in all matters relating to the SAPS and the service they provide.
Knowing your rights and the process to follow, is essential for any rape victim as well as to ensure successful management of the case. Remember, you can report irrespective of whether you want to lay a charge or not (laying a charge means you want the case to go to court).
It’s your responsibility to report the case, to prevent the rapist from hurting someone else!
Here are some general points to consider when reporting a case to the SAPS:
- A police official dressed in uniform has to take your statement. No victim should ever be turned away.
- You may report your case at any time. There are no time limitations as to how soon after the fact, your case needs to be reported. The sooner the case is reported however, the better, due to the collection of evidence.
*You need not make your statement alone. A friend or family member may accompany you, unless they may be a witness – since that can complicate matters in court. When a victim is a minor, parents are allowed to be present.
- If you’re not happy about your statement, you may make amendments.
- You can make your statement in your own language.
- You have the right to a copy of your statement.
- Ensure you have your case number, before you leave the police office. This number is essential to gain any information or progress about your case.
- You need to prepare yourself, to be able to answer very intimate questions.
- Remember to take down the names and ranks of all police officials interviewing you.
- You are also entitled to a contact number, on which you can reach your investigative officer if needed. Also ensure that the investigative officer has your contact details, in order to get hold of you for any reason relating to your case.
- The police station doesn’t have to be your first stop. You could go to the nearest rape crisis centre in your area, for the necessary assistance and support. There are also sexual assault centres integrated into the emergency departments at a number of Netcare hospitals, where survivors of sexual assault are provided with medical, emotional, psychological support and sanitary care – while staff also assist them with the forensic and reporting aspects where relevant, in collaboration with NGOs that are involved in the programme. This service is provided irrespective of whether or not the survivors are covered by medical aid.
- At the hospital, official forms called a ‘J88’ and ‘308’ have to be completed, which are both vital for your case.
Courtesy: Epic Foundation and Netcare Mulbarton.
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