Mapping servicesMapping services


Children and their families should have to access a range of services and programmes that address violence against children. According to the Children's Act, these should range from prevention and early intervention services through to therapeutic services for those who have been victims of violence. Together these services make up the child protection system. Government is responsible for providing these services, either directly or by ensuring they are provided by others. In South Africa, many civil society organisations provide social welfare and prevention services, including statutory services that are provided by designated child protection organisations on behalf of the state.

The first step to having access to services is for the services to be available. But access is about more than simply building more police stations or opening a satellite office in an unserved area. High quality, accessible services should have enough adequately trained staff and resources to provide the service and meet the demand; be physically accessible and affordable to access; and be effective and relevant to those they intend to serve. Here we map the physical location of government services that form part of the child protection system but we recognise that this is only one aspect of promoting access for children and their families.

Use the interactive map below to view the coverage of selected public services.You can find out more about the services and sources of data in the section below the map. This map aims to show how mapping data can help to inform evidence-based planning of services, although this depends on the accuracy of the data available. For example, we have not included many preventative services (or civil society orgnaisations) because of the limited data available on these programmes nationally. Click on the legend in the bottom right-hand corner to select the services you wish to see and hover over the dots for more specific details where available.


Data Source

What are these services about?

Department of Social Development (DSD)
The national Department of Social Development is the lead department responsible for child protection as outlined in the Children’s Act (2005). However, child protection services are provided by provincial DSD, as well as NGOs assigned as designated child protection organisations. The national department also oversees social security policy as it relates to grants and has oversight over the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

South African Police Services (SAPS)
SAPS is the national police force in South Africa. It has a constitutional mandate to protect the citizens of South Africa and uphold and enforce the law and maintain public order. When a crime is reported to a police station, a police official will take statements, open a docket and register the case on the SAPS Crime Administration System (CAS). The case docket is allocated to a police detective who will carry out the investigation and, when the investigation is completed, present the docket to the relevant court for prosecution. The specialised Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units were re-established in 2010 and are responsible for investigating crimes against children.

Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC)
The Thuthuzela Care Centres are one-stop facilities based at hospitals that aim to reduce secondary victimisation of survivors of sexual violence, improve conviction rates and reduce the cycle time for finalisation of cases. The TCC programme is led by the Sexual Offences and Community Affairs unit (SOCA) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The services TCCs may offer include a medical examination, counselling/debriefing, bath/shower facilities, comfort packs and court preparation.

Magistrates Courts
Magistrates’ Courts are also known as the lower courts (as opposed to the High Courts) and they deal with less severe criminal and civil cases. They are divided into regional courts and district courts, with the regional courts dealing with more serious cases than the ordinary district courts. Every Magistrate’s Court is a Children’s Court, which deals with issues affecting children. The Children’s Court makes decisions about children who are in need of care and protection and can place a child in alternative care or refer children and/or their families to services they require.

Sexual Offences Courts
Sexual offences courts are magistrate's courts that are specialised in the adjudication of sexual offences through prosecutors and magistrates with special expertise in this area of law. These courts should offer the use of intermediaries for children when testifying and child-friendly waiting rooms to protect the child from having to encounter the accused. Some sexual offences courts only hear sexual offences matters on their rolls, while others are hybrid courts which hear or prioritise sexual offences matters but also hear other criminal matters.

Child and youth care centres
The Children’s Act defines a child and youth care centre (CYCC) as “a facility that provides residential care to more than six children outside of the child’s family environment in accordance with a residential programme suited for the children in the facility.” This definition is broad and includes facilities previously registered as children’s homes, secure care centres, reforms schools and schools of industry. Of the 347 CYCCs identified in a database obtained from the national DSD in March 2018, a total of 318 (92%) had addresses that allowed for mapping. This map therefore slightly under-estimates the availability of CYCCs as identified by national DSD. 

South African Social Services Agency (SASSA)

The South African Social Security Agency oversees the administration and payment of social grants to eligible beneficiaries. Applicants apply for a social grant at one of the SASSA service points and can choose to receive their grants as a cash payment at a pay point, through merchants/supermarkets or into a bank account. Social grants support poor families to care for their children and are an important component of economic strengthening prevention strategies.

Data sources:
  • DSD service points: Data obtained from Human Sciences Research Council, with permission of national DSD (November 2017)
  • SAPS: See (downloaded November 2017)
  • Thuthuzela Care Centres: List available on NPA website (dated February 2016; downloaded November 2017)
  • Magistrate courts: Lower courts – Magistrate Courts, Branch Courts and Periodical Courts (Updated 11 Sept 2017, downloaded from DOJ&CD website, January 2018)
  • Sexual offences courts: List of Sexual Offences Courtrooms upgraded and established (Table amended 10 May 2018, accessed on DOJ&CD website, 25 June 2018)
  • Child and youth care centres: Data obtained from national DSD (14 March 2018, personal communication)
  • SASSA service points: Data obtained from Human Sciences Research Council, with permission of national DSD (November 2017)