“When the gang rape of a nine-month-old baby broke, the nation was shocked. Then we heard of more baby rapes – one after the other and, as Child Protection workers countrywide will testify, it’s been going on for years” Fair Lady, January 2002.
After the gang rape of nine- month- old ‘Baby Tsepang’, an incident which took the world by storm, the horrific incidence of child rape began to be exposed. A journalist from the magazine “Fair Lady” did some research and asked Captain Hermien van Zyl to take her to the Child Protection Units in Cape Town. There were only two at that time, Goodwood and Mitchells Plain. They spent 24 hours together looking into every aspect of what the CPU’s do from a case being reported, to the child being interviewed or rescued, the perpetrator being apprehended and much more. Through Captain van Zyl, Superintendent Jan Swart and others she discovered the sorry plight of these Units. “the system is overloaded and undersupplied.” Fair Lady 2002. Each Investigating Officer had at least 60 cases to deal with at any one time, and worked many long hours overtime usually without pay.
Kerrin Marcon, Flo Borchers’ daughter, visiting from the UK, read the article in the Fair Lady in January 2002 and was deeply moved by it. She contacted Superintendent Jan Swart and we went to visit the Goodwood Child Protection Unit.
We were most impressed by the dedication of the staff, working long hours against tremendous odds but with grit and the determination to arrest the perpetrators. Supt Jan Swart showed us an ice cream container in which were a few toiletries, a fruit juice and a small soft toy. This was the ‘Pack’ given to children who had been violently abused. Whoever had been providing them no longer did so and we decided that we would like to help in that way, and to go to the Unit once a month, take refreshments and just cheer them up. Kerrin went back to the UK and started to raise funds.
We soon adopted the Mitchells Plain Child Protection Unit, where Captain Hermien van Zyl was an investigator and were once again impressed by the staff and their complete dedication to the children they worked with.
As a charity we have been active since that January in 2002 and throughout all those years we were guided and advised by Col Jan Swart (until he retired) and Lt Col Hermien Titlestad- van Zyl.
We began by packing 3 Comfort Packs a month for Goodwood CPU and currently pack over 1200 Comfort Packs every 60 days for the 26 SAPS FCS Units (Family Violence, Child Protection, Sexual Offences Units), eight hospitals, including Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, four Safeline Centres for the Treatment and Prevention of Child Abuse as well as two sections of the Wynberg Children’s Courts.
We distribute to the entire Western Cape.
We have had a long relationship with many of the members of the old Child Protection Units as well as the current FCS Units (which replaced the CPU’s in 2005) and a deep and abiding appreciation for what they do.
We salute them one and all for their service to abused children and pray that the need for Comfort Packs will become less and less each year!
The picture shows Lt Col Hermien Titlestad-van Zyl, with Flo Borchers, and some of the Comfort Packs which were packed on 03 December 2015 for her Mitchell’s Plain Unit.