our work / Care of Abused Children
Mandisa Sinakhomo is not someone who is prepared to ignore difficult and distressing cases. As a care worker at a children's centre in 2003 she became increasingly appalled by cases of child rape - the final straw being a small girl of 3 who was HIV+ as a result of abuse. There was not enough evidence to bring the perpetrator to justice and Mandisa was determined to do something to ensure a better future for children.
Together with a group of concerned women, she founded Matjabeng Rape Intervention and Care Centre. This is now a thriving community organisation, whose impact on the treatment of child rape was recognised by the police when they invited MRICC to have their office at the police station.
MRICC works primarily through schools, running sessions for both teachers and children. School staff are trained to look for signs of abuse, and sessions with children are designed to empower them to come forward if they are victims of abuse.
The issue of child rape can be a complex one, as often the boundaries between the perpetrator and victim become blurred. In one case, the rapist of a 9 year old girl was identified as a 13 year old neighbour.
To some degree, they both are victims - of poverty, of an economic situation that still forces parents to travel away to find work, and of communities that are still struggling to overcome a history of fragmentation. MRICC workers were in court when the 13 year old boy was brought in. He was being detained with adults, which was not an appropriate place for him to be, leaving him prey to even worse influences. The case worker was able to arrange for him to be bailed into the custody of an extended family member and for him to be given counselling.
NMCF's partnership with this organisation has been essential to the development of the service. Not just funding, but advice and training has helped the organisation to thrive by setting long term goals.
The issue of child protection is at the heart of NMCF's work. Mandisa and her team show that there is hope that communities can be strengthened and integrated with justice organisations - and that the next generation can be encouraged to grow up with strong African values that will guarantee a better future.