South Africa

“Often, the reason people don’t report is that they fear nothing would be done or they wouldn’t be believed. Thuthuzela is a haven for rape survivors; we reduce secondary trauma for the victim, improve perpetrator conviction rates and reduce the time in finalizing cases.”

Pumeza Mafani is the national coordinator of the Sexual Offenses and Community Affairs Unit in South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority. Her unit’s mandate – just like her personal mission – is survivor-centered. Pumeza oversees a national network of Thuthuzela Care Centers, which integrate investigation, prosecution and survivor care services under one roof.

Eager to see progress in some of the South Africa’s most challenging environments, Pumeza’s introduced the concept of community engagement around gender-based violence. She believes everyone has a stake in keeping women safe and holding perpetrators accountable. Her ideas have been adopted in other countries, including Chile, Mozambique and Ethiopia. Today, she’s focused on expanding the national number of care centers and exporting the center’s model around the world.