Sonke launches “Thuthuzeleka”

Coming soon to your local community radio station is “Thuthuzeleka”, a crime/thriller series commissioned by Sonke Gender Justice.

Recognising the role of radio as a unique and powerful medium to reach and influence communities, Sonke has contracted CMFD (Community Media for Development) Productions to produce “Thuthuzeleka”, a crime/thriller drama series premised on the subject of sexual assault. The main character, Detective Busi Ncube, goes undercover at a secondary school to find a serial rapist that is terrorising learners and the community surrounding the school.

Aptly named “Thuthuzeleka” in isiXhosa, which means “be comforted”, the story aims to bring comfort, hope and support to those who have suffered sexual assault or rape.

It also aims to challenge the negative attitudes and misconceptions that surround sexual violence – for instance, that the survivor was to blame for it – but also to provide practical information, such as what steps to take following a sexual assault and how to get help to deal with the ordeal.

The series promotes awareness around, and access to, Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs). “Thuthuzela” is an isiXhosa word, meaning “comfort”. This is the name given to one-stop facilities that have been introduced as a critical part of South Africa’s strategy to respond to the management of the scourge of rape in the country. The aims of the TCCs are three-fold:

  • To reduce secondary trauma for rape survivors;
  • To improve conviction rates; and
  • To reduce the time that it takes to finalise rape cases.

In a society where rape is very prevalent, the story tells each rape survivor that they are not alone – help, care and support is available. Every woman – and man who experiences rape – should report it. Furthermore, it calls on South Africans to take a stand against rape.

Finding the right statistics on rape is difficult. Available statistics are inconsistent and lack context. Women’s groups in South Africa estimate that a woman is raped every 26 seconds, while the South African Police Service estimates that a woman is raped every 36 seconds. However, rape in South Africa is a real problem that needs to be tackled seriously.

“Thuthuzeleka” will be aired on dozens of community radio stations in close proximity with Thuthuzela Care Centres throughout the country. This will enable community radio stations to become vehicles of change in the country’s response to rape. We have provided radio station hosts and other key staff such as programme producers and community-based organisations with training on gender, HIV & AIDS and gender-based violence so that they can host on-air discussions and report on these issues.

This is a five-year joint project of the Soul City Institute for Health and Development, the Medical Research Council, the Foundation for Professional Development and Sonke Gender Justice.