WATCH: Finally, a safe space for victims

Umhlali SAPS officers with representatives of Checkers and King’s Rest Containers, who each donated a container, amongst other things, for the trauma centers.

After months of hard work, Umhlali SAPS launched their Victim Support Units last week Friday.

These units will serve as trauma centres for victims of abuse, a safe space needed even more than usual as we head into the holiday season with increased incidents of rape and violence.

Survivors of abuse often find it very difficult to make a report at a police station.

They have already endured and overcome and – once they arrive at the station – now have to deal with the stares and judgement of still more people.

Also read: Open your hearts to victims of abuse

The Courier spoke to one such survivor, who said reporting her rape at the police station felt like yet another trauma.

Mpho (not her real name), was repeatedly raped by her then husband. Marital rape is already a difficult subject, with many women feeling they have no recourse.
“He used to get extremely rough with me,” Mpho remembered.

“He would choke me until I thought I was going to die and he would punch me if he did not like what I was doing.”

Mpho said she was often left with bruises over her body and bleeding between the legs. After a particularly violent episode that left her with a broken nose, she decided to go to the police.
Mpho said it was one of the most difficult things she has ever had to do.

The Courier is live at Umhlali police station, where the long awaited trauma centre is being opened today.

Posted by North Coast Courier on Friday, 1 December 2017

“Just walking into the station took a lot of courage. I had decided to go immediately, still with the blood on my face, so I could show them.”

She said at first the police only wanted to open a case of domestic abuse, uncertain whether a husband could really ‘rape’ his wife. Adding to the struggle, a pair of bystanders heard her and started talking between themselves about whether it was really rape.

“The stares I got were bad enough, but when I had to stand there and listen to people talking to each other about how it does not really count as rape – while every time I moved I could feel the tearing in my vagina – I nearly turned around and ran away.”

It is for instances like this that this effort at Umhlali SAPS is so necessary. Survivors should not be forced to endure a second round of trauma when trying to report an attack.

The two container units, that will function as trauma units for women and children, have been kitted out over the last several months with donations from the community. Everything from floorboards to ceilings, couches to air-conditioners, beds to toys and hygiene products to books were donated and will help to provide a secure, welcoming environment for those who need it.
The driving force behind this initiative has undoubtedly been Umhlali SAPS’s captain Vinny Pillay.

Pillay never slacked in his efforts to introduce these support units, all while fulfilling his daily responsibilities as an officer and functioning as the station’s spokesperson.

A capable – though humble – man, Pillay was praised by all who attended the launch as the Dolphin Coast’s local ‘supercop’ but was difficult to pin down to accept the accolades, as he was hiding from the limelight and busily ensuring everything went off without a hitch behind the scenes.

Police bow their heads for a moment of prayer.

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Allan Troskie

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