n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Rape survivors' experiences of the criminal justice system : (CJS) case study - Rape Crisis Centre Port Elizabeth

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) recognises the rights of females as victims of crime and the urgency with which South Africa as a country should respond to female victims. Research in South Africa showed that in 2000, more than 52,000 cases of rape and attempted rape were reported, of which 73 percent fell through and only 27 percent prosecuted. Although the criminal justice system - represented by the police and courts - does not cause rape, it plays no small part in aggravating the problem. Statistics in South Africa has revealed that rape has one of the lowest conviction rates of all serious crimes. In this paper we gained insight into how the police, courts and medical persons respond to survivors of rape. Research participants for the research study were sought via the Port Elizabeth rape crises Centre. All participants were females who had accessed the centre for counselling and court preparation. Focus group discussions were held and face to face interview schedules were administered to the research participants. The sampling was non-probability purposive sampling. Through this research we were able to show that often times rape survivors were treated with disrespect and indignity by either members of the police or the courts. This study offers recommendations arising from the findings, some of which include : protocols of how to manage rape which must be communicated to police officers via work-shops frequently and on an on-going basis, police personnel be made aware through workshops of the policy documents that discuss victim's rights and the consequences of violating these rights, investigative officers communicate the progress of the case to the survivor's right up to the time of sentencing, police officers transform their attitude, either implicitly or explicitly, in suggesting that victims are responsible for the rape.

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