Legal eagles share knowledge with the youth
Advocate Nandy Moodley, Adv Ansuya Harilall, Adv Amy Kistnasamy, Adv Omashni Naidoo with Nzwandile Ndlovu site co-ordinator of Thuthuzela.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions hosted a youth outreach programme on June 1 at the Stanger Town Hall in celebration of ‘youth month’.
The event, which was attended by more than 300 children, was as entertaining as it was educational.
Programme director Mzozi Mthembu from the Soul City/Soul Buddyz programme was the lively link between the items, making the entire audience, presenters included, dance, shout, clap and ‘stare lovingly into each others eyes,’ to brighten the mood.
During the programme, a young poet read his poem about the evils of the popular drug, ‘Whoonga,’ saying that it is a death threat to the community, the spirit and the child.
Advocacy manager for Women and Men Against Child Abuse and the KZN task team representative for human trafficking, alerted children to the ways in which abuse and trafficking can occur.
Professionals addressed other topics, including juveniles in conflict with the law, and the skills needed to stay safe. The children also watched a Zero to Hero presentation, and a short play about rape.
Chief prosecutor from Pinetown, Adv Amy Kistmasamy, said that the purpose of the day was to celebrate youth and to reinforce their rights, as they would be running this country in the near future. She said that a lot had been put in place to support today’s youth, particularly in the courts.
“We used to concentrate mainly on prosecuting and didn’t have the option of doing the softer things, and now we are more victim-centred.”
She said that sexual offence prosecutors are now trained to deal with abuse cases, and victims are offered an intermediary for court, or can participate from a room adjacent to the court where necessary.
Adv Kistmasamy also introduced the one stop rape facility, the Thuthuzela Centre at Stanger Hospital, to those who did not yet know about it.
The programme brought tears and laughter to the audience, made up mainly from pupils chosen from schools in KZN.
If you know or suspect child trafficking is taking place contact this free number 0800 555 999. Anonymous calls will be accepted.
All about Thuthuzela
Thuthuzela (the Xhosa word for ‘comfort’), the one-stop rape centre at the Stanger Hospital, opened last year to embrace and support rape victims in their greatest time of need.
On arrival at the centre first and formost, victims are welcomed and comforted. The medical examination is then explained to them and a consent form is signed. After the exam they are offered shower facilities and where possible, comfort bags, which include underwear and basic toiletries.
Immediate and follow up counselling is offered, follow-up visits are scheduled and treatment and medication are provided for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Only at this point is an investigating police officer called in to take a statement and open a case, which is done with a centre worker present if desired. The centre also helps the victim prepare for court.
Prior to the opening of the centre, rape victims had to first report to a police station. In many cases they would have to wait in the charge office for the family and child protection unit (FCPU) to arrive (where there is such a unit). Once their statement had been taken and a case opened, the patient would only then be taken to the Trauma Unit at Stanger Hospital where they very often had to wait in a queue for between four and fifteen hours.
Head of the centre Dr Shivani Chirkut stresses that there is no rush at the centre.
“Don’t be afraid, we are centred on you, while you are with us you are the only thing that we see and hear and it will take as long as it takes.”
Make a difference
The Night Owls, the Sheffield Beach quilting group, have already supplied 100 comfort bags to the Thuthuzela Centre, but as the need is ongoing, they need the community’s support.
The Night Owls make and take in bags from sewing groups and individuals who donate drawstring bags and handbags. The ladies fill the bags with donations of underwear, a face cloth, a small jar of Vaseline or Savlon, a small container of talcum powder, toothbrush and paste, soap, tissues, wet wipes and a small hand towel. Into the children’s bags a small, soft teddy, (knitted, sewn or bought) is also added. The hospital provides sanitary towels and baby nappies.
The biggest need they say is for comfort bags for children of both genders from the ages of five to 15 years. If you are able to help in any way please contact Melanie Meyer on 032-946 2370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The centre is also short of clothes, as rape survivors have to hand their clothing in as evidence. There is a need for teenage and adult size clothing and, in particular, clothing for girls between the ages of three and 10. Clothes can be dropped off at the centre in Stanger Hospital, or at Alberlito Hospital with coordinator Karishma Singh.
Published on June 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm