Started in July 2000, this Anti Rape Programme has two tiers - a long-term solution to the issue of sexual abuse of women and children as well as a short-term solution that seeks to assist the victims of abuse whilst on the other side ensuring that the law deals swiftly with the perpetrators. For a long term rape solution, DOJ and Constitutional Development were commissioned by the Cabinet to formulate a national strategy for combating rape. The second project that seeks to assist the victims and deal with perpetrators is divided into 10 sub-projects - three Thuthuzela Care Centers (in Nelspruit, Kimberly and Natalspruit Hospital, East Rand) and seven specialized Sexual Offences Courts (Nelspruit-Mpumalanga, Umtata-EC, Umlazi-KZN, Vosloorus-Gauteng, George-WC, Evander-Gauteng, Thohoyandou-Limpopo. Thuthuzela Care Centers are facilities based in a hospital environment that seek to provide a one-stop shop for victim of abuse. A centre is manned by a project manager and provides police services health care, counseling and legal services all under one roof. Sexual Offences Courts are specialized courts designed to streamline the process of handling and prosecuting cases of sexual abuse. It transforms a normal court into a suitable facility able to offer a private room for the victim in which she/he testifies via a video camera that broadcasts to the main courtroom. The government realizes that the various departments cannot effectively attend to various social ills whilst operating in silos. An integrated solution pulls together resources from the SAPS, Health and Welfare as well as Justice and Constitutional Development. The primary objective is to protect the vulnerable members of our community and ensure that staff members go back to safe communities when they knock-off from the office.
Innovation: A holistic approach in rooting out the rape crisis in the country. Whilst on the one side, there is a need to deal with the abuse of women and children on a daily basis, there is also the realization that we will be concentrating on only the issues already confronting the project, without dealing with the root causes. The development of the strategy tries to cover this at it seeks to establish the cause of this behaviour. A process is being looked at whereby the welfare of the victim is safeguarded by means of an interactive audio-visual system.
Effectiveness: The involvement of Vodacom in this project encouraged by the success of the existing sexual offences courts in bringing the perpetrators of abuse to book. It is the realization that added resources could help clamp down the scourge. A victim-centered approach is adopted. An increase in the number of crimes reported and subsequently finalized suggests that people are getting the message to deal with abuse head-on. The Umtata Sexual Offences Court is an example where a record of at least 70% on average per month of guilty verdicts are at a quicker rate than before, while the Sibasa Sexual Offences Court, Thohoyandou, is recording 62%. It serves to cement the observation of every human being's rights as entailed in the country's Constitution. It further creates the necessary impact of ensuring that the vulnerable are empowered to do something about their vulnerabilities. Women serviced at the Thuthuzela Care Centers total 3000. Vodacom has invested R5m into this project for the supply of resources and training. The government is also contributing resources in the form of buildings and vehicles as well as human resources.
Poverty Impact: It is not directly related to poverty, although poverty is closely linked to the root causes. As said above, in the future, there is hope to outline the root cause of the causes of abuse crimes.
Sustainability: Co-operation from the local partner departments as they need to avail human and material resources is important. As well, the participation of the NGO sector to ensure that broad understanding of the project is providing assistance to the victims where necessary. The project has not experienced any funding problems. With continued sense of ownership and support from the provincial and local government structures, the project will continue for as long as abuse problems are experienced. Lack of funds from the local municipalities to provide resources like ambulances and police vehicles might be a potential obstacle to the sustainability of this project.
Replication: Currently 40 Sexual Offences Courts and 3 Thuthuzela Care Centers with 7 sites already for the roll out of more of the latter. The government is in the process of securing private partnerships to establish more of such facilities that will be placed at strategic points in the country where there are high numbers of abuse cases.