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Help for rape survivors

Written by: Allison Cooper

Gender-Based Violence

It is not your fault if you get raped, irrespective of the circumstances or situation that gave rise to the incident.

This is according to Dr Emeka Orisakwe, the Clinical Manager of Ngwelezana Hospital’s Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, who also stressed that victims are not alone.

“TCCs are here to support and assist you, to ensure that you get the necessary help and are able to seek justice,” he said.

TCCs were introduced as a critical part of South Africa’s anti-rape strategy to reduce victims’ secondary trauma, improve conviction rates and reduce the cycle time required to finalise cases.

“The model utilised at TCCs ensures that victims do not need to move from one facility to another, or from one unit of a facility to another unit, to get help. All necessary care and services are provided in one place,” Dr Orisakwe explained.

“TCCs are deliberately located in areas with a relatively high incidence of rape and are conveniently linked to Sexual Offences Courts,” he added.

Ngwelezana Hospital’s TCC opened in December 2011. It offers 24-hour services to community members in the D28 King Cetshwayo district, including Lower Umfolozi, eMthonjaneni, Umlalazi, uThungulu and Kwambonambi.

“We also accept victims beyond this catchment area, including Mtubatuba, Hluhluluwe and Hlabisa, and we accept referrals from other districts and hospitals for the provision of second and third opinions by a specialist,” said Dr Orisakwe.

On average, Ngwelezana Hospital’s TCC helps 71 victims a month. “Of these, 99 percent are victims of sex-related offences,” Dr Orisakwe confirmed. “We generally consult victims of sexual offences and deal with domestic-related cases, including child neglect and abuse.”

Services offered

The Ngwelezana Hospital’s TCC offers various free services, including an initial orientation of all of the services available, crisis debriefing and medical treatment. Other services include:

  • Crisis management for acute care.
  • Consultation with a professional nurse, who engages victims to make sense of what happened so that appropriate medical services can be rendered.
  • A full body examination, where applicable, after the victim or adult relative has signed a consent form.
  • Consultation with a medical doctor, in the presence of a professional nurse.
  • Collection of forensic specimens and documentation for police and court processes.
  • Provision of medical treatment for sexually transmitted infections; post-exposure prophylaxis, to prevent HIV; morning after pill, to prevent pregnancy; wound management; and providing information about drug side effects and management.
  • Counselling, to ensure adherence to treatments.
  • Ablution facilities, enabling victims to bath and change into fresh clothing and the provision of comfort packs.
  • Provision of food and water, when necessary.
  • Consultations for children, to determine the appropriate next steps.
  • Referral of victims, where applicable, for pregnancy termination.
  • Psychosocial support services.
  • The victim assistant officer provides information pertaining to court processes, case progression and matters relating to conviction, sentencing and bail.
  • Arrangement and referral to a place of safety for victims and relatives, where applicable.
  • Consultation with suspects, for specimen collection for DNA, pre-court appearance plea and post-court appearance.

“TCCs are here to support and assist you, to ensure that you get the necessary help and are able to seek justice.”

How to contact a Thuthuzela Care Centre in your area?

Call the Gender Based  Violence Command Centre on 0800 428 428 or send Please call me to *120*7867#