2006 Winner
Western Cape Province, South Africa
Impumelelo Innovation Award Trust
Impumelelo Innovation Award Trust
South Africa

Description: SAVE was started in the Western Cape in 1990 in response to the Department of Justice and the SA Police Service's requests that justice for complainants with intellectual disabilities who have been sexually abused should be pursued. Intellectually disabled complainants are refereed to SAVE by district courts in the Western Cape for assessment, who are, for the most part, female and under the age of 18. SAVE's 4 clinical psychologists provide psychological assessments of a complainant's level of functioning, competence to act as a witness and ability to consent to sexual intercourse and, if necessary, provide expert witness in court. Meanwhile a team of 16 social workers provide court preparation, counselling and ongoing support to the victims and their families. They also provide training to public prosecutors and police officers in appropriate interviewing skills as well as training for other professionals nationally. SAVE functions primarily in the Greater Cape Town area and during the first ten years assessed 100 complainants and now average 77 a year at a cost of about R3,000 per complainant or R227,000 for 2006/2007. SAPS and the DoJ will not pursue sexual abuse cases where the complainant is intellectually disabled without an assessment provided by SAVE but do not have the funding to support its activities. SAVE is entirely funded from donor support, including but not limited to the Community Chest, the David Graaff Foundation, Themba Lesizwe, the Foundation for Human Rights, Mama Cash, Knysna Marathon, and various individuals and trusts.

Innovation: SAVE's work of empowering intellectually disabled survivors of sexual abuse is unique in South Africa. The model of assessments and use of expert witnesses has great potential to influence judicial proceedings.

Effectiveness: The current conviction rate of SAVE assessed complainants is 25% and thus matches the conviction rate of sexual abuse cases for the general population. 77 assessments are being done annually and there is an unfortunate backlog of 6 months. Yet before the introduction of SAVE only one or two cases were being heard every year. This achievement has been done on a budget of only R227,159 per year and based entirely on donor funds. Without SAVE, no cases involving intellectually disabled sexual abuse would be considered.

Poverty Impact: There is no impact on poverty, but services are delivered free of charge.

Sustainability: SAVE is entirely dependent on donor support. It has a staff of 16 social workers and 5 clinical psychologists who are able to assess complainants at a cost of R3000 each but more funding could help reduce the backlog.

Replication: Given the scope of sexual abuse in South Africa, there is clearly a need for SAVE to be replicated. SAVE has already begun to work on training other psychologists and university academics but replication would depend on more sustainable and consistent funding.