We got through 2016 thanks to you!


Dear supporter,

Rape Crisis has a dream of a world where women feel safe and are free from sexual violence – a world in fact where everyone is of free from rape.

This year you helped us train the volunteer counsellors who are there to offer support and empowerment to anyone traumatised by rape. You helped us pack care packs for rape survivors at our annual Mandela Day event. During the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women you stood with us as our Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign demanded specialised Sexual Offences Courts outside Athlone and Khayelitsha courts in an effort to get government to roll these courts out across the country as promised.

Because of you rape survivors and their closest supporters can call our helpline at any time of the day or night. Because of you they can come for counselling sessions that help them understand their trauma and find ways of coping.

By the time they leave Rape Crisis so many of them are free of their traumatic feelings. While they will surely relive this trauma at certain times they are free of their day to day distress. Many of them leave here feeling closer to people in relationships, with an appreciation of the simpler things in life, a greater sense of purpose and willing to try new things again.

For this if nothing else you made 2016 a good year for us and we thank you for it.

Love, Kath

Kathleen Dey




#HerNameWasVovo and she was a human being

I am a middle-class, white, cis-gender woman who is perceived to be heterosexual. Because of this I am protected in many ways from the hate and violence that is levelled against poor, black queer people like Noluvo Swelindawo, who was kidnapped from her house in Driftsands and murdered because she is a lesbian. I am not sexualised and perceived as ‘deviant’ in the way that Noluvo is. My body has not being transformed by hundreds of years of exploitation into something unhuman, like hers has.

Noluvo Swelindawo

Noluvo Swelindawo. Pic: IOL

But I am not as protected as I have always thought. On the 30th of October 2015 I was raped.

I do not profess to know what Noluvo experienced as a queer black woman, but I have experienced what it means to have violence acted out on me, because of what I represent; that which is less than man, that which is woman. I know what it is to be grabbed, strangled, dragged, penetrated. I know what it is to look into the face of a man and fear that he will kill me and leave my broken body in a clump of bushes. I know what it is to fear that those I loved would find me like this. I know what it is to have my humanity ripped away from me, to feel that I am no longer myself.

The murder of Noluvo forced me to reflect on what it means to be a human being in South Africa, what it means to inhabit this precarious, fractured space. On reflecting on the murder of Noluvo, I am forced to mourn for all of us who can read this kind of story and then carry on with our lives, when the lives of so many are being ended, when so many are being stripped of their dignity, their freedom and their humanity.

The valuing of my life, over the lives of other women, was made clear when I attended a government clinic following my own rape. Here I was repeatedly asked who I was accompanying for treatment – because surely this well-dressed white girl could not be the one who was raped? The fact that I cannot comfortably be seen as a ‘rape survivor’ and  that so many people have wanted not to believe what has happened to me when they so easily believe and overlook when the same happens to other women, is deeply revealing of how dehumanisation has become a key social coping mechanism.

If I had been murdered, those of you, who feel that this can’t happen to people like us, would have cried and probably brought flowers, like you did for Franziska Blochliger. You might have raged and screamed. You might even have marched to ensure that this does not happen to another young woman, like me. You would have recognised my humanity and that it was unacceptable for this to be taken from me.

You will not, I fear, do the same for Noluvo.

*Republished with permission.




Rebecca Helman will begin her PhD, which explores “post-rape subjectivities” at UNISA in 2017. She is researcher at the UNISA’s Institute for Social and Health Sciences & SAMRC-UNISA’s Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit and a volunteer counsellor at Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust’s Observatory office.

Follow her blog here. 





On the importance of specialised Sexual Offences Courts

I know you know all about the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign, because you’ve liked them on Facebook and you’re following them on Instagram and Twitter. Just to recap, it’s a project started to hold the government accountable to its promise of more sexual offences courts.

On Friday 25th November, myself, three other students along with a couple of amazing Rape Crisis staff visited Parow Magistrates’ Court to get an insight into specialised Sexual Offences Courts. We’re here in Cape Town all the way from the University of York in England to study the advocacy model that Rape Crisis is developing.


On Friday morning we turned up at Parow Court armed with a checklist, a camera and a whole bunch of questions. Our first step was to meet Monica, a Rape Crisis court supporter. Her job is really invaluable as she talks survivors through every step of the trial process, equipping them with the knowledge which then empowers them to go into the court room and give their testimony. Everything at Rape Crisis revolves around trying to prevent secondary trauma to survivors, and the advice that court supporters provide including how to avoid looking at the defendant during your testimony sounds very useful on that front.

A quick tour outside so that we could check that Parow court met good standards of cleanliness and state of repair, and then we got to see the separate waiting rooms for adult and child witnesses. A separate waiting room gives them a few minutes of calm before entering the court room. The waiting rooms are set up with magazines, televisions and toys, to make the whole ordeal just that bit more pleasant and help the waiting go more quickly.


We were lucky enough to get to meet a specialist prosecutor during our tour. This is another fantastic thing about specialised Sexual Offences Courts; the prosecutors only deal with sexual offences, and have received specific training surrounding rape and sexual assault myths and understand the complexities of the Sexual Offences Act. Even the magistrates here are specially trained on these types of cases as well as the procedural aspects of the law!


Cuen Stanfield, Parow’s intermediary, showing us the speaker system set up which allows the intermediary to hear court proceedings.

I found the hardest part of our tour was our meeting with the court intermediary. With a background as a social worker, his job mostly involves working with children in order to lessen secondary trauma during their trial, although he also works with adults with mental disabilities. He is the contact person between the magistrate, prosecutor and child, and acts as a kind of “translator” to put courtroom questions into terms that the child can understand and feel comfortable with. On the day of the trial the child or vulnerable adult doesn’t go into the courtroom and instead sits in a specialised room with the intermediary, who can hear court proceedings through an ear piece and relay questions. The intermediary’s room and the court room are connected via  closed circuit television (CCTV), so that when the time comes, the cameras can be briefly turned on to allow the child to identify that the defendant is indeed the perpetrator of the crime in question. As awful as it is that there is a need for a special room for child survivors, I am so glad that such a clever system is in place to prevent any further trauma. Having seen this set up, I can’t believe that it hasn’t been rolled out worldwide and that many countries still force children to be in the courtroom during proceedings.


Checklists at the ready as we made sure Parow court was a fully functioning specialised Sexual Offences Court.

Overall, this was a really eye-opening experience. There is no question in my mind as to the need for the RSJC Campaign, bringing in more specialised Sexual Offences Courts and reducing both the time it takes for a rape case to get through the trial and the secondary trauma that a survivor faces when taking their case to court. If you want to help Rape Crisis with this goal, you can follow RSJC on Facebook, Twitter, add your name to the RSJC mailing list  or DONATE to the campaign.



Kate Every, Ari Bakke, Fiona Garvey and Hannah Smith are students from the University of York doing their masters in Applied Human Rights. Here volunteering for Rape Crisis, they’ve also spent a lot of their free time on Table Mountain with their new friends, Selasi and Cassi the dassies.


This is the story of a survivor who brought 10 rapists to justice

It’s also the story of one of our country’s specialist sexual offences courts and how this court helped her do it.

Walking home from a friend’s house one Sunday afternoon nineteen year old Dalia realised she was going to be home later than she had told her parents.  Taking a short cut through an abandoned building , she surprised a group of gangsters smoking tik.

All 10 of them raped her. All 10 of them were known to her.

She finally made it home very late to her frantic parents. Even though they were all afraid of how they might be intimidated, Dalia’s parents supported her wish to report the men to the police.


Rape Crisis Court Support Administrator, Estelle Carolissen (right) guides and supports rape survivors on the road to justice. (Photo: Alexa Sedgwick)

The Rape Crisis court supporter for Cape Town sexual offences court that day was Estelle. She and Dalia then met with the specially trained state prosecutor for her case. In the separate waiting room for rape case complainants, Estelle explained what the court expected of Dalia and how the trial would proceed. It was only when she showed Dalia round the empty court room, that she asked how many men had been accused.

If there are 10 accused in a trial then the rape survivor has to tell her story to the court 10 times.

Hearing this, Dalia broke down, and said she couldn’t go through with it. But Estelle took her straight to the prosecutor’s office and requested that Dalia be allowed to give her evidence in a separate room via closed circuit television (CCTV), so that she would not have to face any of the accused in court.

Each day as she gave her testimony in the weeks that went by, Estelle sat beside her, and held her when she cried until she was calm enough to continue. She also kept Dalia in the intermediary room until the accused rapists and their defence teams had left the court before bringing her out to her waiting parents.

All 10 men had been behind bars awaiting trial since their arrest. All 10 were found guilty. All 10 were sentenced to more than 20 years in jail. Dalia said she could never have done it without Estelle.

The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign will hold the South African government to its promise to establish specialised sexual offences courts across South Africa. All rape survivors deserve access to a separate waiting room, to CCTV if the case warrants it, to the expertise of a specialist prosecutor, to skilled interpreters and specially trained magistrates. They all deserve to be supported by someone like Estelle.

You can donate to the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign right now by clicking here.

You can sign up to support the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign here. And you can also share this appeal and follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

By making your donation here you can help us to make sure that rape survivors are properly supported, and that more rapists are convicted, as well as help to make our criminal justice system stronger. Thank you.