Victims of rape and other violent crimes may soon sue their attackers in civil trials for damages using taxpayers’ money, Die Burger reports.

The Victims Support Bill, which has been gazetted for public comment, envisages an extended role for Legal Aid SA.

The memorandum accompanying the Bill says there is a ‘contradiction’ in the fact that alleged perpetrators of gender-based violence are entitled to free legal representation in their trials, but victims are not.

The Bill not only provides for legal advice to victims during their attackers’ criminal trials, but ‘acknowledges that a victim must also be entitled to legal representation when a victim decides to sue an offender for damages’.

Other provisions in the Bill include a requirement that police stations must have a private, victim-friendly zone, victims of gender-based violence are explicitly afforded the right to be informed when an accused is arrested or released and that the NPA must properly prepare them for their testimony.

Full report in Die Burger (subscription needed)