The victim counselling room at the Stellenbosch Police Station (SAPS) has been renovated and it opened again on 2nd March 2018, to be used for counselling people traumatised by crime such as assault, rape or home invasion. The counselling is done by trained volunteers. Its aim is to help people to deal with their bad experience and move forward with their lives. The counselling is free and available to anyone in the area covered by the station.
The room is part of the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) offered by most police stations in the country. It however became disused and needed to be cleaned, repaired, painted, refurnished and generally updated.
This effort became a project of the Community Policing Forum (CPF), and the main driver was Heather Kirkwood-Toweel, a counselling psychologist in private practice, who volunteered for the VEP. Because of budgetary constraints, she had to rely on the generosity of many businesses and individuals in the community. The Stellenbosch Agrimark, being Mens-Mense, were one of the first businesses who volunteerd to become involved by donating a refrigerator and a wooden storage box towards the project.
(Photo) Brig Z Dladla, Station Commander, SAPS Stellenbosch; Dr Carol Puhl-Snyman, Chairperson, Community Policing Forum; Leon Henn, Stellenbosch Agrimark; Maj General A Lincoln, Winelands Cluster, SAPS; Ms Heather Kirkwood-Toweel, counsellor; Capt Herlien van Zyl, VEP Co-ordinator.