What you must do when you have been raped

Volunteer and Go Purple Foundation member Amanda de Swardt.

MALALANE – This is according to Ms Amanda de Swardt, a volunteer at the victim- empowerment centre at Malelane SAPS and member of the Go Purple Foundation, who works with many victims of rape.

By law, any person that has knowledge or reasonable belief that a man, woman or child has been the victim of a sexual offence (such as rape, molestation, sexual assault) is required to report it to a police official.

When reporting such a crime, an official will take your statement. A friend or family member can stay with you while this is done, as long as they aren’t a potential witness in your case. The statement can be made in your own language, provided there is someone to translate it.

You will obtain a case number, which you can use to get information about your case.

Victims of rape will be examined by an accredited health-care worker who will compile a medical report and collect medical evidence.

Victims should make sure the investigating officer knows how and where to contact them at all times.

They should also have the number of a police official who can give them information about their case. When the suspect is arrested, they need to testify, attend an identification parade, be aware of the date of the trial and the outcome of the case.

Police officers are not allowed to turn a person away who wants to report information regarding sexual offences.

The officer must either take an affidavit from the person and open and register a docket or consult with a community service centre commander, who must make a comprehensive occurrence book entry of the report and reasons why they aren’t satisfied with the evidence presented by the person.

De Swart says she assists victims in reporting the crimes and motivates those that don’t want to report it why they should.

If you become a victim of rape

• Try not to panic when you are assaulted.

• Try and remember what the attackers looks like: age, race, height, hair colour, scars, tattoos, jewellery, clothes.

• Scream, yell and run away if possible.

• Go to a safe place as soon as you can escape

• Report the case to your nearest police station, hospital or clinic.

• Do not bath or wash. Do not throw away your clothes as they can be used as evidence. If you take off your clothes, place them in a box, paper bag or wrap them in newspaper (not a plastic bag) to keep as evidence.

• You will need to visit a clinic or hospital to get medication to prevent HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

It is important for victims to speak to a counsellor, social workers, church member, friend or family member to help deal with the trauma and support them throughout the investigation and prosecution process.

SAPS have victim-support programmes in place, such as the one De Swardt is involved in, and she urges victims to get into contact with her for help and advice.

Enquiries: Victim-empowerment centre at Malelane SAPS or contact De Swardt on 072-371-8993.

Retha Nel

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