The exploration of the reporting and evaluation of child rape cases by social workers in Usizo Centre.
Caluza, Londiwe Gugulethu Precious.
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When South Africa saw the dawn of democracy in 1994, the newly elected government faced the challenge of making the country inclusive for all, including children. The government thus had the task of ensuring the protection of all South African children, irrespective of their race, gender, socio-economic class and geographic location. Two of the ways in which they sought to address this was by reserving section 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa exclusively for children and by making amendments to the Children’s Act 74 of 1983 to align it to the ideals of the democratic state. Some of the amendments made are found in section 110 of the Child Care Act of 2005. The section provides guidelines and procedures of how a child rape case should be attended to by the relevant stakeholders such as social workers. The purpose of this research therefore, was to explore the reporting and evaluation of child rape cases by social workers in light of the procedures stated in section 110 of the Child Care Act of 2005. The research question came about after the increased reports of child rape in the media irrespective of the amendments to the Child Care Act of 2005 and the formulation of the National Register of Sexual Offenders. The study investigated the role of social workers as advocates for children and their participation in child rape cases. The aim of this research was to evaluate if the procedures of reporting are effective in ensuring that children who are victims of rape receive justice. The study focused on the reporting of cases of children aged 0 to 7 years old. The research was conducted in a medico-legal centre in Durban, Phoenix which is a one-stop centre for victims of sexual and physical abuse. The research design utilised in this study was the evaluation research design. The methodology used was the qualitative research method and the method of analysis was thematic data analysis. From the findings of the study it was established that the working relationship between different stakeholders sometimes had a negative impact on the reporting process. The idleness of certain individuals in the reporting process jeopardises the chances of a successful conviction against the perpetrator. The scarcity of resources and workspace also impacted on the reporting process and also put the victims in jeopardy of experiencing secondary victimisation. Lastly, the skills of certain stakeholders was questionable since working with children is a specialised field which needs individuals with a high level of skills and competency. In conclusion, it was recommended that the training of stakeholders in their field of work must include how to question and gather evidence in a victim-friendly manner. Policies must be in place to test the competency and skills of the stakeholders that work within the centre. The availability of resources and workspace also needed to be addressed in order to address work efficiency and lower the chances of secondary victimisation.