Specialised sexual offences courts could make a dent in South Africa’s staggeringly high rape rate by speeding up the turnover of rape cases and thereby convicting more rapists and encouraging more survivors to report the crime. However, unless the South African government puts its money where its mouth is, the so-called “rape courts” will amount to nothing more than a “nice idea”.
“If I don’t have my pills, I don’t know what will happen. I will probably get sick again, very sick. Maybe I will die this time,” says Xoliswa Mbana* as she readies her four young children for school in the impoverished informal settlement of Masiphumelele, in Cape Town, South Africa.