Desperate cry for victim counselling in Khayelitsha

| Andiswa Hala

It is well-known that those who report crimes to the police stations in Khayelitsha are not likely to receive a great deal of help. This leads to a situation where many victims of crime simply do not come forward to open a case.

If a resident were to report a crime, it is unlikely that they would receive, or even be offered, the attention and counselling that they deserve. This happens despite the fact that there are designated counselling rooms within our police stations.

This leads me to the conclusion that the Khayelitsha police stations do not only have problems surrounding crime prevention and management, but also with regards to the standard of their service.

When people who have been raped go to the police, they are sometimes referred to organisations like Simelela and Thuthuzela for counselling. But the police stations themselves should have counselling and support for rape survivors.

The above mentioned is only compounded by the fact that Khayelitsha continues to face an increasing crime rate, including a rise in major offenses such as murder and rape. One of the crimes that has become popular is vigilantism – the reason for this is that individuals have lost hope and trust in the police and are therefore taking their community’s safety into their own hands.

There was recently a meeting called by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) aimed at addressing the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the police. The police were also invited to this gathering. Discussions were held not only around police inefficiency, but also on the desperate need to improve the relationship between the community and the police. We raised specific concerns about the availability of counsellors in police stations. The police responded by saying that they are planning on opening a victim trauma-centre. They did not however provide us with an exact date for the opening of this centre. In the meantime a lack of counselling and support for crime victims continues to exist in Khayelitsha.

Khayelitsha is known as a hotbed for crime. Every day there are at least three women who are sexually assaulted and follow through with the reporting process, but don’t have a place to go to in our police stations for counselling or support. Simelela and Thuthuzela are playing a huge role in helping victims in Khayelitsha, and therefore we should strive to replicate their impact in the police stations. This is why I firmly support the Commission of Inquiry.

We as members of Khayelitsha and the SJC have been trying to get police to work with us to improve their service, but these efforts have proved futile. This is what led us to apply for the Commission of Inquiry. We hope it will bring back the dignity of Khayelitsha residents. We need to know what is going on in our police departments in Khayelitsha, and where the problems lie. We as Khayelitsha residents have huge concerns about the situation in Khayelitsha because we know it and we live each and every day within it. We would love to see our government support us on this. The only thing that Khayelitsha residents are asking for is safer communities for all. We want to build a safer future for the youth of Khayelitsha and for South Africa as a whole.

Hala is a member of the Social Justice Coalition and an Ndifuna Ukwazi Fellow.

TOPICS:  Crime Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into Policing

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