The Station Commander of Galeshewe and Management in partnership with Women’s Network and Men for Change have officially relaunched the Victim Support Facility at the Galeshewe SAPS in Kimberley. In the midst of 16-days of activism against abuse of women and children, the Galeshewe SAPS say that it is important that all victims should be treated with respect, dignity and in a sensitive manner. Speaking on behalf of cluster commander Brigadier Norma Adonis, was Colonel Alexia Robertson, who explained the importance of facilitating victims of violence at police stations.
“For those who do not know what a victim friendly unit is, it means that it is a dedicated room in a police station that provides a safe space for victims. This includes victims of domestic violence, victims of gender based violence (GBV), child abuse and sexual offences to name a few. Its purpose is to take them away from the CSC and record their statements in private in a non-threatening environment. When we say victim friendly service, it means the service that SAPS must provide must be professional, accessible and sensitive, so that victims of crime can report crimes in private. Many times victims of violent crimes come to the charge office and they would be so vulnerable and exposed.”
Colonel Adonis went on to say that what sparked the urgency to revamp their current victim friendly facility was a visit to the centre by Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas, who she says was not impressed with the state of the centre.
“When Premier Sylvia Lucas visited the station last year June, she looked at me with that look on her face and asked me, is this the victim friendly support centre? And I said yes Premier. She looked at me and said are you sure? And I said yes. The first thing she said to me was you know what? If I was a victim of rape and I had to visit this room of yours, I would not feel safe in it. And that day was embarrassing for me. After the Premier left we decided that we were going to revamp our victim friendly unit. I then suggested to the Brigadier that we rather move our unit to the nearest CSC.”
Frances Baard Cluster Commander, Brig Tip Brink, shared Colonel Robertson’s sentiments adding that the urgency for the facility was imperative in successful apprehension of suspected perpetrators of GBV and child abuse.
“I think this is a very good starting point. What has happened at Galeshewe will be a catalyst for what will roll out in the rest of the Province. I think the importance of a victim friendly room is high as we can only think of what trauma a child or a woman must go through when he/she has been victimized. If you are traumatized, you want to be in an environment where you can feel safe and even feel comfortable. That is very important. You want a comfortable environment. The first stage of counselling is talking to someone who cares and when you are in an environment where it looks like people care, it makes you feel so much better.”
Brigadier concluded that he thought the facility was well equipped and is a catalyst in the wave of change of how victims will be handled in police stations throughout the district.