28 February 2011
Forensic social workers will now be available in all Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units across South Africa.
The FCS units, which are in 176 policing areas countrywide, were established to conduct specialised investigations in all cases of sexual offences, domestic violence and child abuse.
Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana said the introduction of forensic social workers would help women and girls give evidence that improved the probability of successful prosecutions in court.
“By introducing these specialised units within the police service, government has ensured that conviction rates are increased,” Xingwana said at the United Nations 55th Session on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York.
Outlining South Africa’s position at the session, the Xingwana said crimes against women and children were a national priority and that the government had put in place various programmes aimed at improving the challenges faced by women.
Xingwana told delegates at the UNCSW that South Africa was proud of its global best practice model for providing support to victims of sexual violence, the Thuthuzela Care Programme, which is recognised by the UN as a best practice model in addressing gender-based violence.
A total of 28 Thuthuzela Care Centres have been established to serve as one-stop centres where victims of sexual violence can open criminal cases and get counselling and medical services, including ARVs for prevention of HIV – all under one roof.
“The Thuthuzela model weaves together the investigative, prosecutorial and judicial processes into an empathetic and expeditious mechanism of delivering justice to victims, while ensuring offender accountability,” Xingwana said. “Our business is ending impunity for these crimes and turning victims of violence into survivors.”