Victim Empowerment Centre
Haenertsburg South African Police Services (SAPS)
South Africa

The Problem

The Haenertsburg SAPS is situated in remote farms, that is unique, natural, and characterised by environmental forests, commercial plantations and farms.
The project started in 2010 after realising and considering the prevalence of domestic violence related cases around the farms and the four villages within policing Haenertsburg area. The local community is predominantly illiterate, poor and unemployed. Most of them do frequent the Station for assistance when applying social grants, food parcels and old age pension grants. Although these issues are not directly police responsibilities the Station management deemed it necessary to built a Victim Empowerment Centre wherein social workers and volunteers will be working together with SAPS concerning counselling of victims of rape, assaults and domestic violence. This was also considered an opportunity for vulnerable people to be assisted in the process by the very social workers concerning other social issues that include social grants and food parcels through the centre.

Before the initiative victims and complainants travelled to Tzaneen which is 40km eastwards of Haenertsburg to seek a social worker assistance and to Polokwane and Mankweng which are 70km and 90 westwards of Haenertsburg. This was actually a challenge for the community to access the needed services from Social Development as it was far from their residential places and with scarce transport. Women found themselves in a most frustrating situation.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The initiative is about provision of basic policing services that include accessibility to service delivery by local community. It focussed most on the vulnerable groups within the farms and rural villages. The vulnerable people included victims of domestic violence, assaults and rapes or any traumatised person whether it be as result of an offence committed or not such a person will be assisted in the centre. The initiative ensures the availability of a social worker on daily basis at the station.

The available social worker is assisted by volunteers who provide daily counselling to victims of domestic violence and rape. Some of these victims are accommodated at the centre or provided with temporary overnight accommodation if necessary. The helpless, poor, unemployed and orphans food parcels through the centre. In this case the assistance is coordinated at the centre by SAPS and the social worker.

As moral decay is understood to be a contributory factor to crime of rape and domestic violence the initiative promotes moral regeneration through visits by church elders and local traditional leadership where they also talk about domestic violence, crime and the marketing of the centre for those who are still afraid to report cases concerning rapes and domestic violence.

The project is positively impacting on crime prevention within the area and the reduction of contact crime especially crimes against women and children . The community is gradually becoming cooperative with the police in terms of investigation, reporting and participating in court hearing cases as we are doing door to door awareness campaigns. The impact is also experienced internally as members’ performance is significantly improving. The roles and responsibilities of the SAPS members regarding the initiative on reported cases are clarified. The Initiative is also embracing Batho Pele principles in that people are put first.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Heanertsburg SAPS Management initiated the idea which the local community including CPF and Byatladi Youth Centre supported for implementation. As there there was no funds for the implementation the Haenertsburg SAPS converted the old Station Garage into a Victim Empowerement Centre through renovation, upgrading and renovation. Most people including SAPS management welcomed the idea which bear fruits of this nature for the local community of Haenertsburg. The Station CPF, VEP and Byatladi youth centre organised needed furniture, used clothes , toiletries and cutleries for the centre to function. Currently the Station is planning to built an extension (room) wherein a doctor will be accommodated to assist in the treatment of victims.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
In this initiative collaboration of police, community, NGOs and CPF were adequate capacity to implement the idea. The idea of donations in the form of old clothes, furniture, cutleries and food parcels was implemented with success. The commitment and dedication of the SAPS members attached to the station contributed largely to the success of the project. The involvement of the NGOs and local community assisted largely in the marketing of the idea. Finally the willingness of the victims to use the facility motivated the Station to implement the solution

The station management had to involve the CPF structure as it is the structure that the community rely on within the farms and villages and it is a structure that is a communication tool between the community and the police as it is elected by the community. As sometimes the CPF members are the ones coming with complaints of domestic violence including rapes and sometimes they even ask to assist in pensions and child grant.

Volunteers and Social workers were used to have the initiative up and running

The other strategy used is the VEP and related processes in order to ensure that victims are empowered to deal with the effects of crime and related problems. The VEP also provides assistance in terms of the prevention of possible suicide especially in rape cases and domestic violence.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The key development was that the victims must know what to do in case of domestic violence whether is emotional, physical, verbal or economical abuse. They must also know the procedure how to apply for a protection order.

The project also aims at reducing crime as the people who need services of the police and social development will now receive immediate attention without travelling a long distance and not knowing what to do. Door to door campaign are held in the farms and villages and pamphlets are distributed in the language that the community understands.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacle that we are encountering is withdrawal of cases in that after taking care of the woman when we are still looking for the husband to be arrested . Immediately the husband or boyfriend is arrested the victim want to withdraw the case as they usually say there is no one to buy look after them or provide foods because the victim is not working.

Through the intervention by the social worker who is able to guide the victim with the court procedures and counselling most of the victims are now attending court and no longer withdrawing cases.

Another obstacle is that the station is characterised by farms and plantation/forest (private and government). Most of the people are illiterate, poor, unemployed, earn little wage for living and they are residing or staying at the compounds and shacks in the villages some with no electricity and water supply. Undocumented (immigrants) people are also our big challenge because most are employed in the farms.

Through the door to door campaigns conducted with the CPF and volunteers we are able to gradually overcome some of the obstacle.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
When the project was initiated there were no funds available. The SAPS women personnel contributed R50.00 per person to assist in the buying of toiletries and food for the victims referred to the centre. They also assisted in buying school uniform and clothing for the child of 14 years old, orphans, and girls whom we are taking to school.

The volunteers from the community were recruited and work shopped by the social worker for them to be capacitated concerning counselling. The volunteers are reporting at the VEP on daily basis even now without any remuneration. They are only assisted with transport from home to work and back home.

The volunteers are involved in awareness campaigns for prevention of crimes against women and children which is an ongoing process. Women are also encouraged to attend ABET. Those who are not working are encouraged to sell vegetables and fruits and also to play sports especially ladies soccer with other villages within the station area.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Project is receiving support from the Haenertsburg communities that include the farms, plantations and villages. They provide the project with toys for the children, bed linen, kitchen utensils and toiletries. On monthly basis the volunteers together with the police are having awareness campaigns and through this campaigns they are not only sensitizing the community about crime but also marketing the centre.
The SAPS Cluster management and Provincial management are also supporting the centre to ensure its sustainability and growth. This makes the idea transferable and sustainable.

The project can be replicated to other stations in that the plan is very easy to follow and implemented. Stations with similar challenges and problems can copy the project but not to repeat it in terms of initiation and design. An oil stain effect can be encouraged through presentation and visit to the station and centre. All police stations nationally or international are suppose to implement this project for the same good results and impact on the reduction of crimes committed against women and children through awareness campaign by the police and volunteers.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
This is a motivational tool for women to break the silence. Women who have given up in life are now able to boldly stand up for themselves and even encourange other women to visit the VEP for assistance in abuse related issues. The impact has been felt by the entire community as they ahve started being aware and even referring other women that seem in need to the VEP.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Haenertsburg South African Police Services (SAPS)
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Winnie Nkosi
Title:   CAPTAIN  
Telephone/ Fax:   015 276 6140 Mobile 082 565 8191
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   No. 1 Rush Street Haenertsburg
Postal Code:   0730
City:   Tzaneen
State/Province:   Limpopo
Country:   South Africa

          Go Back

Print friendly Page