GBV fight strengthened with opening of Thuthuzela centre

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has launched a state-of-the-art Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) in Stellenbosch.

TCCs are a one stop facility for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) where they are able to receive psycho-social support, medical treatment, and legal services.

These centres are also aimed at removing incidents of secondary victimisation and create a platform for building successful cases.

Speaking at the launch of the TCC, NPA National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Advocate Shamila Batohi, explained that the site became operational in February this year.

“It enables the victims of GBV in Stellenbosch and surrounding communities to access and receive world class GBV services. The TCC model is an international best practice. This model works because it is victim centred [and] court directed which is really important because we need to ensure justice for the victims.

“One of the NPA’s innovative interventions to give effect to these commitments [on the response to GBV] has been the introduction of the TCC model. But now, it is not just an NPA initiative, it is a collaborative initiative by various government departments,” Batohi said.

Reflecting on the statistics of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in South Africa, the NDPP called on all of society to join hands to fight it.

“Sadly, as we all know, GBV is a scourge in South Africa. The 2023 World Population Review Report notes that South Africa is amongst 10 countries with the highest levels of rape worldwide.

“It is therefore not unexpected that a December 2022 Afrobarometer survey found that South Africans – both men and women – see GBV as the most important women’s human rights issue that government and society must address as a collective.

“The rape and killing of our women is in fact reflective of the society that is devoid of a sense of humanity. It requires that a whole of society approach be adopted in particular by men that we declare war on GBVF,” she said.

Batohi highlighted that in Sexual Offences Courts around the country, the NPA has a conviction rate of at least 70%.

However, she bemoaned the fact that this drops “dramatically” when unreported cases are included.

“If included; the unreported matters; the conviction drops dramatically to under 10%. So, under 10% of victims actually get justice. It’s something that we really need to look at. SAPS have done presentations…where they say that over 50% of these offences are committed by people known to the victim.

“So the question is if over 50% of these offences are committed by people known to the victim, why do we not have at least 50% of cases reported ultimately convicted?

“Children are very often abused because there are not enough care facilities for mothers working and so they leave the young children, with a neighbour [or] family member and very often, these young children are actually then violated by people that are known to the family. So, we really need to look at why that detection rate is still this low,” she explained.

Batohi said that through the more than 60 TCC units across the country, more victims are reporting.

“Besides providing better services to victims of GBV, a larger footprint of TCCs translates into improved reporting. We had 29 593 matters reported in 2020/21 at the 60 TCCs. This increased to 36813 reported in 22/23 at 62 TCCs. In this past eight years combined, TCCs have dealt with 266 593 matters reported at these sites.

“More TCCs means more reporting, more confidence in the system. We also have an increase in convictions rates in cases that are finalised through the TCC process. They have steadily increased from about 60% now sitting around 75, 76%,” she said. –