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Victim-friendly rooms under spotlight

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Concern has been expressed regarding the state of victim-friendly rooms (VFRs) at police stations in the Northern Cape.

CONCERN has been expressed regarding the state of victim-friendly rooms (VFRs) at police stations in the Northern Cape.

The DA provincial spokesperson on Transport, Safety and Liaison, Ofentse Mokae, said yesterday that a recent oversight inspection to the Barkly West and Kagisho police stations had raised concerns that victims of gender-based violence (GBV) often experienced secondary trauma because of the poor level of care that they received at police stations.

“The VFR at the Barkly West police station is not up to standard,” Mokae said in a statement. “It looks more like a typical office and fails to provide a comforting atmosphere to victims.

“The VFR is also too close to the Service Complaints Centre, which often exposes the victim to hearing the voice of the perpetrator, in turn adding to the trauma. The single female police officer trained and skilled to handle rape cases at the Barkly West police station is also under severe strain to provide adequate support to victims of GBV,” said Mokae.

He added that as a result of the lack of electricity at the VFR at the Kagisho police station in Kimberley, the room closes at 4pm on weekdays and over the weekends, despite the fact that most rape cases are reported in the late afternoon or on weekends.

“A normal office is then allocated for usage as a VFR instead. Due to the lack of electricity, the room gets extremely hot and cold but cannot accommodate an air conditioner or a heater. The room also does not have any ablution facilities.

“The situation has been ongoing for almost four years already, while calls made to the Department of Public Works to effect the necessary renovations have apparently fallen on deaf ears.”

Mokae said that the DA would escalate this matter to the MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Nontobeko Vilakazi, for her urgent intervention.

“We have also submitted parliamentary questions to ascertain how many police stations in the Province are currently without VFRs and also the state of these VFRs.”

Mokae added that the victims of sexual violence and abuse deserved to be treated with the utmost care and dignity and for that to happen, properly resourced police stations and specialised training for police personnel dealing with victims of sexual violence was needed.

The Northern Cape police failed to provide comment yesterday on the allegations.