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Take your power back and report rape

Written by Adele Schormann
Systems being put in place to facilitate the reporting of rape.

Being a victim of sexual abuse or rape is one of the most traumatic experiences one can face. That is why the South African Police Service (SAPS) has put systems in place to make it easy and safe for people to report these crimes.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe said it is important for the community to work with the police and report these crimes.

"As the police, it is our duty to play a major role in making sure that the perpetrators are brought to book and the victims are in good hands. We urge the community to come forward and report cases of rape to their nearest police station," said Bhembe.

 Victims must report  crimes of a sexual nature to the police within 72 hours of the crime taking place.

Bhembe advised rape victims to seek professional trauma counselling after their ordeal.

"You may feel dirty and want to wash repeatedly and you may be scared and afraid to go out. None of these responses are unusual or unnatural. You need to remember that there are services available to assist you," he said.

 The Greater Rape Intervention Project (GRIP) is one of the organisations that assist rape victims to get tested for HIV/Aids and other diseases.

GRIP social worker Thandiwe Maseko said that the organisation takes care of  rape victims.

"We provide a care pack and let victims stay in a safe house until they are ready to talk. We have the best and most caring councillors ready to help," she said.

How to report a rape case to the police:

■ First, go to a clinic for a medical examination. The report will form part of the case file and will help the police catch the perpetrator.

■ Then go to the nearest police station and open a case. The police officer will ask you for your personal information and about what happened. Answer truthfully and try to remember as many details as possible. It may be a painful process, but the information will assist in the investigation.

■ Ask the investigating officer for their contact number, so that you can contact them for an update. The investigating officer will also contact you if further information is needed.