State of the Nation  2024


Survivor-centred care in the Eastern Cape


Impact stories
Image: Advocate Linda Jekwa
Gender-based violence

Advocate Linda Jekwa, the State Advocate at the Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, reflects on the substantial progress made by the centre in recent years.

Operating since August 2001, the TCC in Mdantsane has witnessed an increase in cases from 40 per month in 2020 to around 90 cases a month now, showcasing growing awareness and response from the community.

The TCCs have a measurable impact on conviction rates, with GBV cases processed through the TCC system yielding a commendable 77% conviction rate on average. At Mdantsane, these rates fluctuate between 80% and 100%, a testament to the efficacy of the local centre.

“As a prosecutor I can see the difference in terms of the quality of investigation. Previously statements were taken badly or taken when victims were still in trauma,” explains Advocate Jekwa.

At the TCC, victims undergo forensic examinations by specialised nurses or on-call doctors, using crime kits for evidence collection. After this process, they receive trauma counselling, the opportunity for a shower and a change of clothes, ensuring their comfort before providing a statement to the police.

“It is crucial that we collect evidence properly and in time. In our outreach programmes, we urge people to report the cases as soon as possible – but if they do not, we will still take on the case.”

Advocate Jekwa also emphasises the importance of pre-trial services. “We ensure that survivors benefit from pre-trial services, working closely with the court preparation officer, who is based in court and linked to the TCC.”

These officers play a vital role in preparing witnesses for court, a responsibility previously shouldered by prosecutors. Their designated role includes explaining court proceedings and supporting survivors in crafting their witness impact statements, contributing to a more comprehensive and survivor-centred legal process.

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