Volunteer Support Services to Victims at Crime Scenes: Exploring Victims’ Perceptions





victims, victim supporters, psychological first aid, victim support centres, victim empowerment programme


More than one million people in South Africa are victims of individual crime annually. To deal with the trauma that many victims experience, victim support centres have been established. Volunteer supporters usually form the backbone of these centres and sometimes they are called upon to render victim support at the crime scene. This type of early intervention has been criticised because it can lead to secondary victimisation if not rendered appropriately. To gain important insight regarding this problem scenario, the researcher adopted a qualitative approach to explore the perceptions of two categories of key role player, namely, the victims of individual crime and the volunteer supporters. A case study design was implemented by purposively selecting participants from two victim support centres located in Johannesburg. The data were gathered by conducting personal interviews with each participant using a semi-structured interview guide. The data were analysed using a structured, step-by-step framework of thematic analysis that adopts a qualitative paradigm. Trustworthiness of the study was enhanced through sample triangulation. This article focuses on the findings related to the 10 victim participants. The findings revealed that the victims were offered psychological first-aid services at the crime scene and perceived the services as valuable. This is because their rights and needs were adequately met by well-trained volunteer supporters who implemented the principles of the victim empowerment programme. These findings should be taken into consideration by the Department of Social Development and other key role players when the Victim Support Services Bill of 2019 is enacted.


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Author Biography

Priscilla Ann Gerrand, University of the Witwatersrand




How to Cite

Lorge, L., and Priscilla Ann Gerrand. 2021. “Volunteer Support Services to Victims at Crime Scenes: Exploring Victims’ Perceptions”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 33 (3):22 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2708-9355/9117.



Received 2021-02-17
Accepted 2021-09-07
Published 2021-12-08