The Foundation for Child Safety

The Foundation for Child Safety (often referred to as the Child Witness Foundation) was established in 2015 to support the work of The Child Witness Institute.

Surviving covid-19




1 billion children experience some form of emotional, physical or sexual violence every year, and one child dies from violence every five minutes.

90% of children are abused by someone they know, love or trust. Over 60% of children are abused within their own families by mothers, fathers, uncles, siblings, grandfathers, etc.



COVID-19 has changed the world overnight and has some very serious implications for children everywhere. A third of the global population is on COVID-19 lockdown, and school closures have impacted more than 1.5 billion children.

Restrictions on movement, isolation, overcrowding, loss of income and high levels of stress and anxiety are dramatically increasing the likelihood that children will become victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at home, especially those children who are already living in violent and dysfunctional families.

Children are making greater use of online facilities to access families and schooling, exposing them to cyberbullying, risky online behaviour and sexual exploitation.

This situation is further aggravated by the fact that children are unable to access their friends, teachers, safe spaces and services that schools provide.



Research has highlighted the serious impact that violence has on child victims and the need to ensure adequate psychosocial support interventions to reduce this impact as well as prevent future offending by the victim. Since the impact of trauma in cases of sexual violence is complex and pervasive, victims are in need of support services that include:

  • crisis intervention and trauma debriefing;
  • legal advice, court support and advocacy;
  • court preparation;
  • counselling; and
  • therapy.

These support services need to be holistic and must be able to be adapted to suit the needs of individual victims at different stages of their journeys of recovery.



Despite being the key factor in a victim’s recovery, holistic psychosocial support programmes are unavailable for the vast majority of victims globally.

Only a few services are provided on an ad hoc basis by non-governmental organisations, and mostly in larger urban areas. Where psychosocial support services are available, they tend to target only certain aspects of support and do not deliver a holistic package of services. The sad truth is that a very small percentage of abused children ever receive any counselling.

It is, therefore, necessary that programmes be developed that address all these factors and which are aimed at capacitating statutory service providers, grassroots organisations and schools for delivery so that their access is amplified.



Our response is to develop a psychosocial support programme for victims of sexual violence that will respond to the identified needs of victims and includes the following services:

  • crisis intervention and trauma debriefing
  • legal advice
  • court support, and advocacy
  • court preparation
  • counselling

Training on the programme will be provided to organisations(governmental and non-governmental), educators and school counsellors in order to roll out the programme as widely as possible and ensure as many children as possible have access to psychosocial support post COVID-19.


    We need your help. In order to succeed, we need R2.9 million.

    This project will provide psychosocial support to millions of children post-COVID-19 who would otherwise not be able to access these services, contributing positively to their mental health.

    Our banking details:

        Account name: Foundation on Justice for Child Witnesses
        Bank: First National Bank of South Africa
        Account number: 62570288318
        Branch: 210655

      For international payments, please use the SWIFT code: FIRNZAJJ950

      Donate via paypal

    Previous funders, supporters and partners

    We’d like to thank all our partner organisations, funders and supporters for your efforts in helping us create a just, fair and responsible criminal-justice system, and for helping us fight child abuse.


    Funders and sponsors


    Dr Karen Müller

    Chief Executive Officer

    Karen Müller established The Institute for Child Witness Research and Training in 1998. She specialises in developing legislation and protocols affecting child witnesses, locally and internationally. She has published extensively and is an expert witness in the field of child witnesses. Karen runs a number of specialised training courses aimed at improving the knowledge and skills of all role-players working with child witnesses in the criminal-justice system. As a Professor of Law, she supervises Master’s and PhD research and is currently implementing postgraduate qualifications for professionals working in the field.

    +27 (0)41 373 6968

    Karen Hollely

    Chief Operations Officer

    Karen Hollely manages the implementation of all projects undertaken by the Institute, locally and abroad.

    She specialises in psychological issues affecting child witnesses and child victims of sexual offences.

    Karen has also published widely on topics pertaining to child witnesses and gender-based violence, and co-develops specialised qualifications which are relevant to child forensics, child witnesses and legal system reform.

    +27 (0)41 373 6968

    Michelle Viviers


    Michelle Viviers coordinates all of the institute’s training courses and programmes, and provides administrative support for all projects.

    +27 (0)41 373 6968

    Dr Hetta van Niekerk


    Hetta van Niekerk is a psychologist in private practice who consults for The Institute for Child Witness Research and Training.

    She specialises in forensic assessments of individuals with developmental delays as well as child-centred investigations and therapy.  She is an expert witness in the field of testimonial competency of both child and intellectually impaired victims of sexual offences.

    Hetta has presented at numerous opportunities, both locally and internationally and has lead training courses with various role-players working with child and special needs forensics.

    +27 (0)44 874 7773

    Annette van der Merwe


    Annette van der Merwe is currently a Professor in the Department of Criminal Law and Procedure in the School of Law at the University of Limpopo, South Africa.

    She initially followed a career in public prosecution, later served pupilage, wrote the Pretoria Bar examination, and then proceeded to enter into academia. She completed her doctoral thesis during 2005, titled “Aspects of the Sentencing Process in Child Sexual Abuse Cases” at Rhodes University.

    Over the years she has been involved with practical legal training of prosecutors and magistrates/judges (national and international), with regard to issues pertaining to the prosecution and adjudication of matters involving child sexual abuse; undergraduate teaching within the criminal justice sphere; providing post graduate supervision on masters and doctoral level; as well as delivering papers at national and international conferences.

    Her main areas of research interest, as evident from her publications in journals articles and book chapters, are (child)victims & witnesses in criminal procedure, the sentencing phase, restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence.

    She has been cited twice by the Supreme Court of Appeal with reference to the recognition of victims during the sentencing phase, thereby contributing to law reform in this regard.

    Iman Rappetti

    Institute Ambassador

    Prominent journalist Iman Rappetti is the host of POWER Talk, Monday to Friday from 09h00 to midday.

    She brings to POWER House her diverse skills as an incisive interviewer and empathetic but firm listener as she excavates the heart of the issues affecting society.

    Iman has been an ambassador for the Child Witness institute since August 2017.


    Foundation for Child Safety (Foundation on Justice for Child Witnesses)


    • NPC number2015/059668/07
    • PBO number93051592
    • NPO number152-49


    14 Neethlingshof Street,
    Haasendal, Kuilsriver,
    Cape Town,
    South Africa 7580


    • Mr Francois Baird
    • Dr Karen Müller
    • Prof Kingston Nyamapfene
    • Mr Timothy Scholtz
    • Mr Gerhard van Graan
    • Ms Nokuzola Ehrens