“It is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning to read”
Carolyn Hancock studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and obtained a B.Sc Agriculture degree followed by a Masters Ph.D in Genetics. Since forensic analysis is closely associated with biotechnology, it was an ideal opportunity to create training modules and programmes. She then continued to lecture at the same university in Genetics for 12 years.
Carolyn became to realise that through her learnings she could make a difference to help children who were victims of abuse. In 2007 she joined the DNA Project. The DNA Project is a non-profit organisation whose aim was to facilitate the expansion of the SA National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database which in 2007 was non existent.
Since 2007 South Africa’s database remained small and it’s expansion was hindered by a lack of appropriate legislation, where it was even against the law to take DNA from a convicted offender. South Africa has only two SAPS labs that can perform DNA profiling.
Carolyn realised that she had the credentials, the tenacity and the will-power to make this happen in South Africa, and subsequently spent the next 10 years fighting tirelessly, at every level of provincial and government on a DNA Project nationwide awareness campaign in order to get it passed into law.
The DNA Project had been lobbying for a database which would contain DNA profiles of all people arrested or convicted of any offence, plus police officers as well as DNA offered on a voluntary basis (Parents DNA of their children)
She seconded parliament members, SAPS members and political party members, year after year. She presented papers and had public hearings in parliament to adopt the Forensic Procedures Amendment Bill. And on 27 June 2014, the DNA act was finally tabled and passed into law. Largely thanks to Carolyn Hancock and her partner Vanessa Lynch. In recognition of her contribution to the country through the constructive use of biotechnology, she was officially recognised by the Minister of Science and Technology in an awards ceremony and book entitled “Blazing a Biotechnology trial”.
South Africa has the second highest murder rate in the world and the highest rape rate worldwide, Interpol has named South Africa the “Rape Capital of the World” but it still did not have a database to check against for matching DNA. Murder and rape both are contact crimes where DNA evidence can be found.
South Africa also has one of the highest rates of repeat offences in the world. Approximately ninety percent of rapists and fifty percent of armed robbers have all had previous convictions of sorts, with criminals often convicted for their first crime between 16 and 19 years of age.
It currently has fewer than 130 000 profiles, unlike some 50 other countries which have in-depth data bases. DNA Databases were first implemented in the UK, in 1995 and since then there has been a 75% increase in the number of suspect-to-crime matches in that country. The US database has some 6,4 million offender profiles collected from suspects, and over 242 000 forensic profiles from DNA collected at crime scenes. Every country with a DNA database have found it to be an invaluable criminal intelligence tool. The DNA Project has found its roots in fighting crime with science.
THE ANGEL’S CARE PROJECT
Out of the DNA Project, and Carolyn’s passion for making a positive contribution to the citizens of South Africa, has arisen a further two projects that dovetail into the DNA Project. The first is the non-profit public benefit organisation called Angel’s Care Crisis Centre, chaired by Carolyn Hancock, which has a mandate to uniquely focus on caring for children of abuse and their communities in the KZN Howick area. The need for this facility arose out of the sexual offences committed against women and particularly children which are reaching alarming proportions.
The sexual abuse and violence that takes place in these informal settlements has been prolific for years. Immersed in these statistics are untold stories of thousands of women and children who have been abused. Most cases are not reported and the victims are left scared and helpless. Many of the challenges that are faced, are cases of child abuse that go unreported, and the children and their caregivers never receive any help.
The centre provides these children and their caregivers every form of assistance and counseling they require whether they are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, neglect, physical abuse or trauma. The centre provides overnight shelter facilities, clothing for children, spiritual and emotional support groups. Ultimately the Angel’s Care Crisis Centre is to provide optimal growth and development of the children
“Nomvula is her given name. She was given that name because it means ‘raining’ despite her having a sunny personality…a spirit of Africa. Always shining, always laughing. She was clever, motivated and ambitious. She always stood out. Her unemployed mother sold her for R4000 to a man when she was 16 years of age. He bought her as his wife. Two years later he left her. She was pregnant and HIV positive. She went to the local government hospital and was neglected in their care and was prematurely discharged having no proper care. She then defaulted on her medication.
Her unborn child was also diagnosed as HIV Positive, She subsequently returned to hospital, suffering from multiple respiratory problems leading to TB. Nomvula died in January 2018 aged 20. Her child is been brought up by the grandmother – the same person who sold her own child… Angel’s Care wants to stop this cycle.
THEMBELIHLE PRIMARY SCHOOL
The school provides a holistic and multicultural education, and to ensure a safe environment for all children. It allows each child to reach their full potential, and partners with families for care. It brings hope and education to the disadvantaged communities through providing education modeled on Christian values. The school provides and ensures a safe environment to learn and grow academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Thembelihle allows each child to reach their full potential and partners with families in caring for the needs of the whole child beyond the classroom. The children all come from poverty stricken households and communities. Many are orphans, or child-headed households or are living with HIV or AIDS. These children reside with grand parents or relatives and survive on minimal state pensions. Many of them are innocent victims of extreme circumstance including sexual abuse, gender based violence, broken families, illness and malnutrition.
Case Study 1
At the Age of 8, amidst hundreds of children waiting for a weekly food parcel, Noluthando was noticed as she was shunned by the other children as she was severely cross-eyed. Our staff immediately assisted her by taking her to see an ophthalmic surgeon who performed life-changing surgery to her eyes. She is now in Grade 6 despite only having been in school for 3 years and is excelling not only academically but in all spheres of her life. In the last 2 years she has increased both her Maths and English marks by over 30% and is achieving above the grade average.
Case Study 2
Jojo came to South Africa from the DRC with his parents as refugees seeking a better life. Jojo is shy and reserved but extremely ambitious and conscientious in his studies where his academic achievements are highly commendable. When provided with the opportunity to run at the Tembelihle sports day he showed great promise that was noticed and encouraged by his teacher and sports coach. Despite running bare foot, he broke the provincial records for the 100 and 200 meters earning his provincial colours in athletics and was awarded the Best Sportsman Accolade in KwaZulu Natal. He has subsequently participated in a National athletics event.
Case Study 3
At the age of 1, a baby girl was abandoned by her biological mother and left in the care of her grandmother and father. Tragically her father raped her whilst she was still at preschool. After her teacher at Tembelihle became concerned due to her fluctuating moods and inability to concentrate, she was referred for counselling at the age of 10. At these counselling sessions she was able to recount what had happened and express herself freely enabling her to heal emotionally. Subsequently her father has been arrested and her academic progress at school has vastly improved and she now interacts happily with her many friends.
The school endeavours to nurture these children through every area of their lives. They are provided with daily nutritious meals, often the only meal they will have daily, medical care and counselling. In addition the school’s sporting programmes encourages physical development and teamwork.
In comparison to the government schools Thembelihle is exceeding their performance in English by 10% and are on a par in mathematics. The school has out performed government schools by 13% at Grade 4 and 16% at Grade 7 levels. We interpret the overall school retention rate at 98% versus the government school number in the 65% range. In 2017 the school had a record of absenteeism of only 3% compared to 15% in other schools. The focus is on Science, English, Technology, the Arts and Mathematics. Other programmes include music, arts, eco club and even a chess club.
The school began with 18 children, today it teaches, feeds and provides for in excces of 250 children. Carolyn Hancock has been offering her vital services unselfishly, for the past 14 years, to the many indignant and poverty stricken members of the Howick and surrounding communities, via these three projects of care, belonging and understanding. Carolyn has made an incredible difference…and so can you.
FOUR POINTS TO REMEMBER ON ABUSE
1) One in three people will have been abused in their lifetime.
(That’s twelve children in a class of forty. The enormity of these impacts on the education system has enormous consequences in the class room environment.)
2) Boys are equally vulnerable as girls, if not more.
Boys reported a higher prevalence rate of sexual abuse (36,8%) then girls (33,9%) but the abuse is different. (Boys are more likely to externalise the abuse by victimising others, whereas girls internalise this, in activities that are harmful to themselves)
3) Child on child abuse is rife in both urban and rural areas.
(Children are often unaware that their sexual behaviours or interactions are considered abusive by adults or even legal terms)
4) One in ten children who have experienced sexual abuse by a known adult, had this experience 4 or more times.
(Child abuse experiences may be once-off, but are often repeated and can change over time)