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Background: Sexual assault in South Africa has reached alarming proportions. Mental illness amongst offenders accused of rape is one of the complicating factors.
Aim: To describe the sociodemographic, clinical and forensic profile of alleged offenders accused of rape referred to a South African tertiary public psychiatric hospital for forensic evaluation, as well as describe the profile of the reported victims.
Setting: Free State Psychiatric Complex (FSPC) Observation Ward, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Methods: This cross-sectional retrospective study compiled a sociodemographic, clinical and forensic profile of offenders accused of rape referred to the FSPC for forensic assessment between 2011 and 2015. The study population comprised 159 alleged offenders. Sociodemographic data, mental status, clinical diagnoses, comorbid substance use and forensic outcomes were collected from clinical files.
Results: All accused offenders were male with a median age of 30 years. About half obtained primary school level education. Unemployment was common (37.3%) with 40% receiving government grants. Most accused offenders were single (78.0%). Clinically, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders were the most common diagnoses (30.8%), followed by intellectual disability (16.3%). Almost a third of the accused offenders did not suffer from any mental illness. Alcohol (20.1%) and cannabis use disorders (12.6%) were dominant comorbidities. After a 30-day evaluation period, 53.2% of alleged offenders were found competent to stand trial. The verdict of criminal responsibility was made for 43.7% of this sample.
Conclusion: This study contributes data on sociodemographics, psychiatric morbidities and comorbidities and forensic findings amongst alleged offenders of rape referred for forensic assessment.