The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign (RSJC) welcomes the official launch of the Boschfontein Sexual Offences Court on 24 March 2017 by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The RSJC holds government accountable for the promised rollout of sexual offences courts across the country in order to ensure that survivors of sexual offences have access to such a specialised court. In the light hereof, we applaud government for honouring its commitment.
However, we note with concern that there are still, according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s official website, only 49 sexual offences courts nationally. This means that the vast majority of communities still do not have access to a survivor-centred criminal justice system to address sexual offences. One such community is Khayelitsha, where we gathered during 16 Days of Activism 2016 to demand that a sexual offences court be established to serve this community. Unfortunately it is still unclear when this will happen.
The RSJC (Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign) calls on the South African Government to put the necessary legislation into effect so that the courts are re-established within a framework that is clear and transparent. We are also asking:
- that government develop a fully costed plan to make sure these courts are delivered within a clear timeframe,
- that government prioritise the areas with the highest rates of sexual assault and roll out Sexual Offences Courts there first
- that government ensure the necessary budget for establishing these courts is allocated annually until all 298 courts are in place and functional
- That all established courts meet the criteria for a sexual offences court and remain fully functional
To support our demand access to Sexual Offences Courts for all survivors, please go to http://bit.ly/2frRPYU. If you want to follow the activities of the RSJC and support us, please visit Facebook at RSJC.
Jeanne is the Advocacy Coordinator at the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust and heads the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign. She likes wine, pizza and recently started growing herbs.