Rape victims travel far for help - Diepsloot clinics not able to assist

Rape victims in Diepsloot have to travel as far as Soweto, some 50km away, to receive postrape medical care and counselling as the township's two clinics and police station are ill-equipped.

This has proven to be a double blow to traumatised women and children who often have to wait long hours for specialised police officers from Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit.

The officers can take them to either Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, Netcare Olivedale Hospital in Randburg and Hillbrow Clinic .

At these facilities victims receive immediate medical attention which include collection of DNA samples taken as forensic evidence, an emergency HIV short-course commonly known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a morning-after pill and counselling which they should get within 72 hours after exposure.

"There are usually delays of up to five hours for an FCS officer to get to the victim at the Diepsloot police station. This can be very stressful to a woman or child who had just been raped and had spent another hour giving a statement to police.

"This delay can be caused by heavy traffic or non-availability of transport and as a result collecting of good quality DNA from the victim is compromised. This could lead to poor evidence being presented in court," said Lindsay Henson, director of Lawyers Against Abuse, a legal services NGO based in Diepsloot.

Henson said police were not to blame as it was the health department which was not making these facilities easily accessible.

Palesa Mpapa, spokeswoman for People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa), said Gauteng had five Thuthuzela clinics which give extensive PEP treatment and several crisis clinics.

"The problem is that ordinary nurses are not skilled enough to examine rape victims and aren't allowed to do so by law. The best that police can do is to take the victim to a nearest centre within 72 hours so that PEP can work effectively," said Mpapa.

Diepsloot police spokeswoman Constable Moyahabo Morata could not comment immediately. Police crime statistics show that in Diepsloot 151 sexual offences cases were reported between April 2015 and March 2016 with a 12.7% increase from 134 reported in the same period between 2014/2015.

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