Another Christmas without justice for 13-year-old rape victim; Action Society condemns psychiatric assessment backlogs at Valkenberg Hospital

The delay in admissions at psychiatric hospitals like the Valkenberg Hospital in the Western Cape also delays justice for victims like 13-year-old rape victim Jason*. The young boy’s rape case has been postponed numerous times since July this year due to backlogs for psychiatric evaluation at Valkenberg Hospital. This morning, the Belville Court announced that the suspect is still on the list for psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is fit to stand trial, and the case has been postponed to 13 December.

Since July, the case has been postponed five times for placement of the accused in Valkenberg. In September, he had been 27th on the waiting list, moving up from the previous 36th place. During today’s appearance, the court was informed that he is now number 10 on the list.

Cases of femicide, sexual offences and family murders are routinely sent for psychological evaluations. In accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act in the Western Cape, forensic medical health services are only available at the Valkenberg, Lentegeur and Alexandra hospitals. Valkenberg seems to be the only hospital that offers observation services and a maximum secure ward. According to Valkenberg’s website, the Forensic Health Division has only four full-time employees and one professor as an honorary staff member. The bulk of the division’s capacity consists of nursing staff, with only two social workers, two occupational therapists and two assistants.

“It is unacceptable. Little Jason* was so brave to report the vicious attack on him. It’s been more than a year of living in fear for him, and it seems sure that he will have to endure another Christmas without justice. With the levels of violence in the province, capacity at these hospitals needs to be reviewed urgently. Action Society demands an investigation into the delays at psychiatric hospitals so that justice can proceed,” said Action Society’s Kaylynn Palm.

Jason was raped in Belhar in the Tygerberg area in Cape Town last year. Action Society became aware of the incident while attending other matters at the Bellville court and agreed to assist the family. According to Jason’s statement, the accused dragged him to a bush near Perseverance High School and raped him after threatening him earlier that day. Jason ran to his father’s house and told him what happened. They opened a rape case the same day.

Jason Hendricks is a pseudonym to protect the victim’s identity*

Is there justice in SA?

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