Ugandan delegation in South Africa to learn best practices on improving justice sector’s response to gender based violence

Date: Friday, April 7, 2017

UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office hosted a Ugandan delegation comprising of members from the Justice, Law and Order Sector on a five-day mission in South Africa to learn about the Thuthuzela Care Centres. The Thuthuzela Care Centres are an innovative model set up to improve reporting, investigations and prosecution of rape and other sexual offences. They hope to use the strategies and approaches learnt to improve offender conviction rates and the quality of survivor-friendly Gender Based Violence services in the Uganda. 

On the first day of their visit, the delegation visited South Africa's National Prosecution Authority Sexual Offenses and Community Affairs (NPA-SOCA) Unit that leads government departments in providing the services.

Ugandan delegation with NPA-SOCA Officials in Pretoria. Photo: UN Women/Derick Nyasulu

Speaking at the NPA-SOCA offices in Pretoria, the head of the delegation, High Court Judge David Batema said, “The study tour is meant to facilitate the sharing of ideas and best practices as South Africa is ahead, having specialised prosecution and court processes such as the NPA-SOCA Unit which Uganda does not have. Uganda has several challenges such as man power, organizing recruitment of specialised police officers, surgeons for medical forensic evidence, and retention of officers, hence there is a lot to learn in South Africa. Apart from prosecution, the delegation would like to understand the legal process - how is evidence adduced? How are witnesses protected as currently Uganda does not have a witness protection system and many cases collapse because the witnesses have migrated or are being threatened."

Representing the NPA-SOCA Unit, Acting Special Director of Public Prosecutions: Head Sexual Offenses and Community Affairs Unit, Advocate Pierre Smith said, "The learning mission is quite crucial as ultimately in Africa there is a focus on all member countries to have concerted efforts in dealing with the rights of the vulnerable - in particular women and children - as there are many atrocities in Africa in relation to violent offenses against women and children.” he also noted that "We need to collectively see what we can learn from each other to ultimately have the best focus on this continent to effectively deal with this pandemic of violence against women and children such as rape".

Asked on what key action point the Ugandan delegation should leave with, Smith said, “It is essential that we work on a model that will ultimately have a one-stop service available where people can get services as quickly as possible; where cases are quickly being investigated, and prosecuted as well as where survivors of sexual gender based violence receive trauma containment counselling”.

The mission falls under UN Women Uganda's Ending Violence Against Women Flagship Programme which focuses on strengthening institutional capacity to implement existing legislations concerning violence against women and girls. Representing UN Women Uganda Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) Specialist - Susan Oregenda said, “South Africa was chosen [for this mission] as evidence suggests that the conviction rate of sexual and gender based violence offenses is very high as opposed to Uganda where currently the conviction rate is around six percent”.

The delegation visited the Thellemogoroane Hospital, Thuthuzela Care Centre in Vosloorus the Palm Ridge Regional Court in Johannesburg and will meet with civil society organisations at the end of their mission.