Meet Captain Karin Botha – a SAPS Forensic social worker who is a voice to more than 100 sexually abused ‘voiceless’ child victims a year

As the country observes the 25th anniversary of the 16 Days of No Violence against Women and Children Campaign (25 November to 10 December), the South African Police Service (SAPS) embarked on a series of untold stories of its men and women in blue who go beyond the call of duty to protect women, children and other vulnerable groups.

Today, we introduce the nation to Captain Karin Botha, a forensic social worker attached to the Germiston Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations (FCS) unit. Forensic Social Work is a specialised field of Social Work practice within the FCS environment, which is characterised by the social worker’s primary function of providing expert testimony in courts of law.

Moreover, a forensic social worker’s core function is to conduct forensic interviews in the investigation of child abuse cases using age appropriate techniques in order to obtain accurate information from child victims, to assist court to make just and fair decisions. Botha holds a degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Forensic Practice.

Among many career highlights include when the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria sentenced a 42-year-old father of Meyerton to four life terms and an additional 73 years’ direct imprisonment on multiple counts of rape, statutory rape, sexual grooming, incest, possession of child pornography and sexual abuse earlier this year.

The father pleaded guilty to all the charges levelled against him for raping and sexually abusing five child victims, of whom two are his biological daughters, between 2019 and 2020. The victims were aged between nine and 13 around the time of the abuse.Botha was assigned to obtain these victims’ statements and compiled their competency assessment reports which assisted the court to hand down an appropriate sentence.

She was also assigned to compile a victim impact report and testified in court as an expert witness in the sentencing of Nicholas Ninow, dubbed the ‘Silverton Dros rapist’. The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria sentenced Ninow to life in prison and an additional 10 years’ imprisonment in 2019 on charges of rape, possession of drugs and defeating the ends of justice.

Ninow attacked and raped a 7-year-old girl in the restroom of the DROS restaurant in Silverton, Pretoria in September 2018. In 2020 Botha was awarded with a Certificate of Commendation by the Minister of Police for the instrumental role she played in the sentencing of a paedophile to life in prison and an additional 100 years’ imprisonment for multiple counts of possession, manufacturing and distribution of child pornography as well as child abuse.  

Botha says she assesses over 100 sexually abused child victims a year, who fondly refer to her as ‘tannie Karin’. Botha feels humbled by her profession that allows her to make a difference in abused children’s lives.

“Parents, caregivers, teachers or any other adult should never doubt or dismiss a child when they are disclosing the possibility of sexual abuse. Contact your nearest police station, open a case and act in the best interest of our children,” says Botha. Captain Karin Botha is the personification of ‘real heroes do not wear capes’ as she continues to be a voice for ‘voiceless’ child victims!

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