TCC Ermelos Sipho Mkhonza champions victims rights

Rape is horrific crime that hurts people and communities across the country. Soul City Institute has been conducting dialogues on Rape around the country. In Ermelo recently a dialogue highlighted the good work done by the Thuthuzela Care Center (TCC). We spoke to Sipho Mkhonza: Site Manager TCC Ermelo.

What is your role at TCC in Ermelo?
I make sure the TCC runs smoothly and manage links between stakeholders and services. I supervise and arrange news campaigns. I also ensure victims get full support, working between the TCC, Police and the Courts and updating them on what takes place in court. I let them know of their rights according to the Victims Charter and find out more about their welfare. If they are not safe where they stay, we work with the police to find them a safe place.

How many staff members do you have?
I am the sole personnel for now but will be joined by a Case Manager and Victims Officer soon.

Since operation, how has the community responded to TCC services?
TCC has been operating since 2010. The community has responded well but more will be done. In other areas the TCCs grew from Crisis Centers so people knew about them. Ermelo TCC started from scratch at the Gert Sibande District and continues to let people know about TCC’s.

Are communities open to using services available to them?
Very open but we have to reach more people in the rural and farm areas. It’s not easy to get to them but when we do we learn of cases that are months old. We still help those victims.  More cases are reported in the semi urban areas which is encouraging. Teachers also need help to learn how to support victims.

How do you communicate messages in communities?
We will soon start a 6 month plan for community clinics and schools. Sometimes churches invite us to speak and people tell each other about TCC.


What about boys as victims of rape?
It happens more than people think. About 2 out of 10 cases are boys and most are younger than 11 years. With adult men we have 4 to 5 cases a year.

What challenges are you faced with in your area?

In Farm Schools the distance and lack of transport is a challenge. Victims face problems getting to us for updates and clinics for medication. They walk a long distance to get to the road where they usually hitch hike as they have no money. Where we can we ask nurses and hospitals to deliver follow up medication. This is more important if they have tested positive for HIV as we monitor that they take medication and have no side effects. There is also late reporting of cases.

Share with us some of the worst cases you have had?
Too many to choose from. There was a case in 2014 where a heavily pregnant lady was raped and stabbed. She was a week away from delivery. This was reported to us and she was examined and immediately taken to hospital. She didn't make it but her baby survived. The ones who did it have been arrested.

Another case I'll never forget in November 2014 an 89 year old lady was raped in her house. We gave her treatment and care but sadly she passed on. The man who did it has been arrested.

Any highlights?
We work well with our stakeholders (partners) so very few cases are thrown out of court because of no evidence. The High Court sits in Ermelo and there have been some life sentences.
In the hospital the CEO Awards which measures services gave top prize to the TCC in 5 of the 6 categories (sections). They find out from victims and do checks to find out how we work. It’s very encouraging to us.

If you need help or more information
Cell phone: 079 489 1049
Address: Ermelo Provincial Hospital, 1 Joubert street,

 

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