History of iThemba
“Simply by being a part of the (South African) society, the lives of all are touched- and tarnished- by violence: Perpetrating it, legally or illegally; being a victim of it, directly or indirectly and being a witness to it, first-hand or via the media.” Brian Mckendrick (People and violence in South Africa 1990)
A National Challenge On a national level, the high levels of violent crime, especially social crimes such as rape, domestic violence and child abuse combined with low economic growth, high levels of poverty and widespread unemployment can lead to serious psycho-social consequences: (SAITS 2008) And an unmistakable reality in South Africa is that crime and violence impacts in such a way that violence becomes for some the only method used to solve problems. For others an accepted way of life and for many a constant intrusion that disallows normal living, commonly known as traumatic stress.
Unfortunately, many South Africans are unable to access the psycho-social trauma support services for several reasons:
• Language and cultural barriers
• Inadequate resources or services in the area
• Insufficient financial resources available to survivors
• Transport problems etc…
And even if these barriers are overcome there are additional barriers faced at police stations where secondary victimization is more the norm rather than the exception.
According to the White paper on safety and security, there is a substantial need to “Improve the quality of service delivery to victims of crime” and that “victimization constitutes a violation of human rights. Empowerment of victims of crime therefore restores human rights and is an important element of police service delivery.” International experience has shown that effective management of both direct and indirect victims and witnesses of crime is a vital part of successful police investigations. This is integral to community policing which seeks to build relationships between the police and local communities.
In keeping with the spirit of the above-mentioned White paper and in an attempt to ensure victims in Gauteng have access to a full package of services that will restore them to a reasonable level of functioning post their experience of victimization, the iThemba Rape and Trauma Support Centre was established.
The iThemba Rape and Trauma Support Centre is dedicated to offering comprehensive care for the survivors of traumatic events, as well as their family and friends. This care includes counselling, treatment for physical trauma, prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and the careful gathering of forensic evidence.
• To offer support to people affected by gender-based violence and trauma
• To enable a process of advocacy for survivors and victims
• To educate and raise awareness about trauma in our Community
• To empower, support and assist survivors of violence and sexual trauma through the process of healing and reconciliation in our community.
• To offer comprehensive care for rape survivors that includes counselling, treatment for physical trauma, prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and the careful gathering of forensic evidence.
• To reduce violence against women through the process of research, lobbying, advocacy and education.
• To increase public awareness about the effects of Traumatic Stress.
• To empower survivors of violence through the process of psychological and legal and emotional support.
Our services allow for improved victim support and empowerment that can assist investigations and serve as a means of altering public perceptions of police effectiveness. Thus, the link between victim support and successful investigations is critical to improving service delivery and therefore to enhancing public confidence in the police.” (Department of Safety and Security, 1998).