UP’s code of conduct related to the handling of sexual assault aims to provide a framework of procedures that will be undertaken to deal with cases of sexual assault. Students can access the code of conduct on the handling of sexual harassment on UP’s website and their student portals.

Reporting sexual harassment at UP:

The first step in reporting sexual assault involves approaching either a Student Council Member Tel: 012 366 9800, Protection officer, Mrs E Gardiner from the Legal Services Division (Tel: 012 420 3073), or a member of the Support Panel. Following the consultation with any of these members, the complainant has the choice of pursuing mediation if an agreement is reached, or of going through with a disciplinary procedure.

Process of reporting sexual assault at the police station:

Complainants of sexual assault are first interviewed by a police official at the Community Service Centre to get the basic details of the incident. After this, a written statement is obtained. Brooklyn SAPS Media Communications Officer, Captain Colette Weilbach, asserts that “statements with regard to Gender-Based Violence and other sensitive cases are taken in private in a Victim Friendly Room (VFR)”. After the statement has been taken by a police officer, it is required that the complainant reads through the statement before signing it.

A detective from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit (FCS) is responsible for conducting the investigation. Captain Weilbach explains that in some instances “a police official may attend the crime scene [and] where possible more statements will be obtained”. The suspect is arrested immediately if their identity is known (minor common assault cases are the exception to this mode of operation). Victims are then referred to a medical examination to obtain a medical report for the case.

Case follow-ups by the complainant:

Once a crime has been reported, it is registered in the Crime Administration System (CAS). The CAS number that is subsequently generated is forwarded to the complainant via SMS. This CAS number is used to direct any enquiries regarding the case. Captain Weilbach ascertains that “if you are a victim of crime, you are entitled to receive continuous feedback on your case. Any changes of addresses or contact details must be communicated to the investigation officer to make feedback possible”.

After the investigation has been concluded:

Once the detective completes the investigation, the docket is presented to the court for prosecution. The prosecutor makes the decision to go forward with prosecution provided there is sufficient evidence. In cases where this criteria is not fulfilled, the prosecutor may direct the detective “to further investigate the case or withdraw charges for various reasons”. Captain Weilbach explains that “if any member of the community is not satisfied with the investigation process or with the service from the police they can approach the Head of Detectives or the Station Commander.” After the prosecution is underway, the complainant is notified by the detective to attend the court hearing.

Victim support services:

All police stations in South Africa provide free victim support services. Captain Weilbach explains that “the Monami Trauma Troops are trained volunteers that are providing emotional assistance to people affected by crime and trauma in the Brooklyn policing precinct. They are not counsellors but are a friend in need who can lend an ear during a traumatic period”. The 24-hour emergency contact number for Monami Trauma Troops is 073 653 4497. This support service is free.

On behalf of the Brooklyn SAPS, Captain Weilbach urges communities “to play their role by reporting any suspicious persons, vehicles, or circumstances to the police immediately by phoning the 10111 emergency-number”. Any information relating to crime can be given to the police anonymously by phoning 08600 10111 or by using the My SAPS app.

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Susanna is currently stu(dying) genetics and joined the PDBY team in 2019. She divides her time between writing and playing with plant disease samples. Her contributions span across Science, politics and all things spicy. If you are or were in the SRC, she’s probably spammed you with messages for a story. She’s got a memory like an elephant – so she probably keeps track of student promises. Picture not to scale.