Wednesday, March 3, 2010

MAB opens Child Friendly Facility in Pretoria

The nearing Soccer World Cup is awaited with great excitement by many, but officers working in the field of child protection are approaching this great event with serious concerns. Human trafficking, child rape and an influx of paedophiles are just some of the many challenges they will have to face. Apart from the severe trauma during rape, victims of this type if crime is often exposed to the secondary trauma of the reporting system. Many police stations do not have the facilities to take statements in a victim friendly environment and doctors are often not trained to do the forensic medical examination.

Pretoria Central Police station however now will be able to offer child-victims the care and service needed when the public report crimes here. This is due to the opening of a child-friendly reporting facility this week. Boasting a private waiting area, child-friendly assessment room and a monitoring room, equipped with state-of-the art recording facilities, the facility is only one of four in Gauteng.

Matla A Bana CEO and founder, ex-hostage Monique Strydom, said that many NGO’s during the last year faced the challenge of keeping important projects running. A dramatic decrease in funding support by donors to NGO’s has resulted to the closure of many of these much needed service. NGO’s have to become more creative in getting projects done. In this case it was the public who had a big hand in it. Funds raised with the Nando’s 94.7 Highveld Peri Peri cruise in 2009, together with co-sponsor Ellerines made this facility a reality.

In his speech, Mr Sedick Arendse, Managing Executive of Ellerines, confirmed the importance the media play in making children and parents aware of the work that SAPS and Matla A Bana do. He believes that children will disclose more readily if they know that facilities like this are available.

In order to secure continued support, the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences detectives and staff based at the station, have been “adopted” by Kerk Sonder Mure, a Centurion church, who will need after their spiritual and other needs.

In a recent research report release by Solidarity, it was stated that a child is raped in South Africa every 3 minutes and that only 30% of crimes against children are reported. With alarming statistics like this, and the hidden threat that the World Cup Soccer brings, one would hope that many more facilities like this will be seen at police stations.

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