Crime

There's no counsellor in SA's rape capital

16 September 2018 - 00:00 By JEFF WICKS


In Inanda township, north of Durban, where a woman is raped nearly every day, the police station has no full-time trauma counsellor to receive the women who come seeking help.
Instead, victims are received in a cramped office piled with papers. A weathered sofa is the dais from which horror stories are told.
Even with a 10% drop in reported cases from 2016/2017, Inanda has the highest number of rapes in the country - 278 cases were registered in 2017/2018, with 309 cases the year before.
Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, Thohoyandou in Limpopo, Mthatha in the Eastern Cape and Kagiso in Gauteng follow Inanda with the highest recorded number of rape cases.
When the Sunday Times visited the victim-friendly room this week, officers said there was no counsellor on duty. A social worker had not been at work that week, and an official from Families SA came to the station only on Mondays.
Pravisha Dhanapalan, LifeLine director in Durban, said her organisation had had to withdraw officials from the station because of a lack of donor funding. "Thankfully we will be returning to Inanda next month," she said.
"They should have a social worker or a counsellor on duty around the clock so that when a victim comes into the station they are not received at the charge office but rather in a specific area where counselling can be done and then a statement taken."
Inanda's 278 rapes contribute to the 40,035 cases reported across SA - 110 women are raped every day.
Dhanapalan said counsellors gave important psychosocial support to victims of domestic violence, sexual and intimate-partner violence, and this had to be done away from the public charge office.
"That [there is no counsellor on duty] is of great concern, but the police are mandated to transport victims to a care centre at a hospital in Phoenix, which is operational 24/7 and specialises in dealing with rape victims. Whether this is done I can't tell you offhand."
Police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker said that if counsellors from NGOs were available, they were called out to give support.
"If not, the victim is taken to the nearest centre where a counsellor is available, including the Thuthuzela centres. In the case of Inanda, they have counsellors from NGOs working during the day and on standby at night."

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