Safe space for abused children

Sergeant Wilmot Isaacs and Warrant Officer Jood Tieties.

A child-friendly interview room has been opened at the Milnerton police station for child victims of sexual abuse.

Officially opened last Thursday, the room is a joint project between the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) and a non-profit, Jelly Beanz.

The room is in a wendy house that a businessman donated to Jelly Beanz last year.

Next to the room is a cubicle with audio-visual recording equipment.

The wendy house is painted in bright colours, and, inside, polka-dot curtains and a big teddy bear help to make it a welcoming place for children.

But it’s the last place any parent will want their child to enter, says Jelly Beanz director Edith Kriel.

“If you enter this house, it means you carry a lot of pain with you.”

One in three children in South Africa were sexually abused by 17 and more than 88% of all child abuse cases were never reported, she said.

She hopes the facility will make children feel a bit more at ease and safer when reporting sexual abuse cases.

“One can never take away what the victims have experienced, but at least we can create a more ‘user friendly’ and less hostile, intimidating environment”.

She thanked all the “superheroes” who helped to get the project off the ground, Captain Joggie von Wielligh, of FCS, and Table View Lions Club which donated plants and helped with the painting.

Brigadier Ntzuteng Mabusha from Milnerton SAPS said the facility would help to build court cases.

“Young children, if not put at ease cannot give information properly,” he said.