What should I do first if I’ve been raped or sexually assaulted | Western Cape Government

What should I do first if I’ve been raped or sexually assaulted

If possible, go to the nearest police station to report the case. The local police station will contact the Family Violence, Child Protection, and Sexual Offences unit(FCS unit)  who deals with these cases.  A detective of the relevant FCS unit will come to the police station to take statements and transport you to the relevant forensic unit/Thuthuzela centre closest to where the incident took place. Here further management and evidence collection will take place. In some cases, day hospitals, clinics, or private GPs will refer victims to a forensic unit/Thuthuzela centre.

Female doctor listening to patient talking while she's talking.

The first 72 hours after the incident has occurred is the most important period for evidence collection. It’s important not to bath, wash, shower or change clothing as evidence may be destroyed. Specialists also advise that survivors avoid eating, drinking or brushing their teeth if there was any oral penetration. Survivors are encouraged to bring any items of clothing, linen or towels which may contain bodily fluid or biological evidence along to collect as evidence. Specialists also advise survivors to avoid wiping the vulva (private parts) to prevent loss of evidence.

These services are available 24 hours a day at designated Department of Health facilities across the Western Cape.

Getting the help you need

If you or someone close to you were a victim of any type of sexual offence, we urge you to seek medical help as soon as possible after the incident. The sooner you go, the better. 
This will help with:

  • evidence to be collected (where possible),
  • medical tests which need to be done, and
  • medication to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STI's) and an unwanted pregnancy.

All consultations are free of charge. 

The easiest way to access these services is to visit your closest day hospital or police station, who should contact the appropriate health care facility where these cases are attended to.  Usually, if a case is reported to SAPS, the specialised unit that deals with these cases will be contacted, and a detective will  provide transport to the appropriate health care facility.

Do I have to lay criminal charges at the police station immediately?

No. You have access to medical care and treatment whether you lay a charge with the police or not. It's advisable to seek medical help as soon as possible. You may however lay a charge at your local police station at any time. If the survivor is a child or a person with any mental impairment, a case must be opened with the police by law

The content on this page was last updated on 20 April 2023