Court system designed for adults‚ not often child friendly: Public Protector

The Public Protector; Thuli Madonsela speaks about Malema's 2009 'food parcels' during an interview on May 05, 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Alet Pretorius)
The Public Protector; Thuli Madonsela speaks about Malema's 2009 'food parcels' during an interview on May 05, 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Alet Pretorius)

A court system primarily designed for adults fails children who are victims of sexual offences as they are often not adequately prepared for the environment.

That’s according to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela who was speaking on Tuesday at the launch of the Child Witness Institute’s Child Witness Foundation at Inanda‚ KwaZulu-Natal.

“Straight-jacketing children into a criminal justice system designed for grown-ups simply fails our children‚” said Madonsela.

She was relating a case that her office became involved in‚ where a child who had been raped was subjected to nine years of “to-ing and fro-ing”‚ and 48 postponements of her case until the perpetrators were finally brought to book.

The Child Witness Institute has been involved in the plight of abused children since the advent of democracy‚ and has done research work and care for victims‚ influencing government policy in the process.

“An urgent need for stepped-up research into prevention programmes‚ and expanded training resources for officials who deal with these traumatised children‚ is what spurred the launch of the new foundation‚ the Institute said.

“Its tireless work led to the model of the new sexual offences courts‚ which aims to provide child-friendly facilities‚ a safer environment where child witnesses are kept away from the accused‚ and access to services such as court preparation.”

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