Court interview room for children upgraded

2011-12-07 00:00

THE PORT Shepstone Regional Court yesterday thanked the town’s Round Table for helping to renovate the children’s interview room at the court.

The interview room separates a child victim of sexual crimes from the accused, and its refurbishment underlines the action part of the the 16 Days Campaign of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

Roelien Wiesner, manager of regional court preparation for the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), court representative Nhlanhla Shinga and regional court prosecutor Sohana Moodley approached Port Shepstone Round Table to help upgrade its interview room as part of an NPA programme Ke Bona Lesedi, which means “I see the light”.

Round Table vice chairperson Jaco Steyn said that after the NPA had explained the need for such a room and presented a wish list, members accompanied Shinga to the court to see what interview preparation entailed.

“Their previous facility was at the back of an open office behind a door and in between filing cabinets. It wasn’t a very suitable venue to prepare child victims for court,” said Steyn.

Shinga secured an old filing room, situated closer to the court, following queries and requests.

Steyn and Round Table members immediately got to work. Two windows were installed by Stewcon, and Status Panel Beaters sponsored epoxy floor paint. The preparation room was then ready to be used.

“Port Shepstone Round Table members quickly managed to organise a water dispenser, carpet, toys and DVD player. A budget was also approved that will go towards a plastic table and chairs for the kids,” said Steyn.

He said the Round Table was very proud to be involved in this programme.

Karen Tewson, national co-ordinator for NPA’s Ke Bona Lesedi programme, said assistance from service clubs and the community is most welcome. “Unfortunately there is no budget for such programmes and we need all the help we can get.”

She said that by having this new room witnesses and victims of sexual assault will feel at ease.

“We want these children to know that the court is a place where they can be helped. We don’t want them to feel intimidated,” Tewson said.

She added that having a prepared witness contributes to a more successful case.

If you wish to donate items for the witness preparation room, call Jaco Steyn at 087 808 1780.

KwaZulu-Natal now has 13 courts with

refurbished witness preparation rooms.

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