Two victims of serious crime will support the launch of Victim Support Scotland’s’ 2011-2015 Manifesto for Action ‘No Going Back’ tomorrow (Thursday, November 18) in the Upper Library of the Signet Library, Parliament Square, Edinburgh, EH1 1RF, at 10.30am.
Both feel so strongly about the need to further improve services to victims and witnesses of crime that they will brave further publicity to advance the case for change.
All media are invited to attend and newspaper, radio or TV slots can be agreed in advance.
David McKenna, Chief Executive of VSS, will outline why the national charity, now in its 25th year, believes that services to victims and witnesses of crime must be further improved.
Among key demands will be additional measures to ensure that the needs of victims and witnesses of crime are paramount; that victims are given a voice in community sentences and direct measures; that the Witness service should be made available in all Justice of the Peace courts; that there should be a fundamental review of criminal compensation in Scotland, and that victims’ compensation should be paid upfront by the State
Both Anita and Magdeline will be present and available for interview.
Anita’s case: Anita is a 32-year old woman who for years was the victim of mental and physical abuse by her then husband whom she met 10 years ago and married a year later. In 2003 he was jailed for three months for assaulting her causing actual bodily harm. A year later he was jailed for a further nine months for further assaulting her. In March 2007 he was sentenced to six years imprisonment for assaulting her again.
They were divorced in 2005 and he was released from prison on November 2 this year.
Anita lives in fear of him discovering where she and the children are living and knows that either he or his friends are currently trying to trace them. She is concerned that while he was in prison social workers tried to help him maintain contact with the family, that he was able to discover where she and the children were living, and now that he is free she is being pressured by his legal representatives to establish contact again.
Magdeline’s case: Magdeline Makola's ordeal last December began when Justice Ngema, an illegal immigrant from South Africa, conned his way into her house. He threatened her with a knife and warned: “I'm a professional at this job and I kill people if I like.”
Ngema dumped the 38-year-old South African-born nurse into the boot of her Vauxhall Astra. Her hands and legs were bound, tape was stuck over her eyes and mouth and a rope placed around her neck. Ngema then drove her car around Scotland, plundering her bank account and using the money to buy gifts for a girlfriend.
Eventually, Ngema abandoned the vehicle at a Lanarkshire railway station, leaving Magdeline for dead. From inside the boot, Magdeline could hear trains, cars and people passing by.
“When I heard footsteps, I started to kick the boot of the car, thinking that people might hear the sound but when I heard them pass I realised they couldn't hear me and I was losing hope. One day I heard no sound and concluded it was Christmas Day. I decided to curl up and try to relax and enjoy Christmas in the boot. I sang and prayed to myself. I just started giving up on life and I was picturing myself in the coffin.”
In the freezing December temperatures, Magdeline was shivering with cold, starving and had a desperate thirst. “I tried to squeeze some condensation from the boot interior in the hope it would relieve my thirst but it was no good because of the tape on my mouth.”
It was on Boxing Day, 10 days after she had been abducted, that police eventually traced Magdeline's car.
“I could hear two men talking so I lifted my head to the gap in the boot and shouted 'Please help me!'
“I heard the footsteps come towards me and when they opened the boot and said they were the police, I thought 'Thank God, I've been rescued.”
Ngema was jailed for eight years and given a lifelong restriction order.
Victim Support Scotland, now celebrating its 25th year, is a registered charity which provides help to all victims and witnesses of crime. Last year VSS dealt with almost 100,000 Victim referrals, 70,000 Witness referrals and about 1,000 referrals to VOYCE, its youth justice service in Dundee. The charity has a presence in all of Scotland’s local authority regions and has staff and/or volunteers in every Sheriff and High Court in Scotland.