Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Thembi Siweya says that the government is serious about fighting gender-based violence (GBV) adding that it will leave no stone unturned to ensure that every woman and child is safe in South Africa.
“Our systems must never subject victims to secondary victimisation or push them back to the perpetrators because the consequences will be too dire. We must be able to assist victims and help them to reintegrate into society,” said Siweya on Wednesday during her monitoring visit at Ikhaya Lethemba Shelter in Braamfontein.
She was accompanied by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko and MEC for Social Development, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi.
The shelter serves as a place of hope for the abused and offers a range of services aimed at helping GBV victims to become self-sufficient, while also preparing for their court appearances.
Survivors are equipped with the skills necessary to help them become self-sufficient and care for their children.
Some have also been armed with professional skills that have landed them formal employment opportunities.
The Early Childhood Development programme at the centre also helps children who have been alienated from their home by their perpetrators and ensure that they are prepared to testify in court.
“The model might have challenges, but it is an ideal intervention in the fight against gender-based violence. It emphasises the victims' rights and prioritises their protection and recovery. It would be ideal if similar institutions could be replicated in all the districts where there are reported high levels of GBV,” the Deputy Minister said.
Several stakeholders, including the police, non-governmental organisations, Health and Justice Departments, as well as people from the private sector, have been mobilised to create an integrated approach when supporting victims.
The Gauteng MEC of Community Safety made an undertaking that no victim in need will be turned away at the centre.
Siweya said as the country marks Women’s Month, they will be going to all the centres to monitor their effectiveness and the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.
“We want to make sure that these centres continue to operate even during this pandemic. At times, we will just arrive at the centre unannounced for us to get an unfiltered picture. Our officials at the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation are ready to unearth the challenges and assist with the solutions,” Siweya said.
The Deputy Minister’s visit follows a recent frontline monitoring programme at a Sexual Offences Court in Nebo Magistrate's Court in Limpopo, where she helped to find a medium-term solution to the water crisis which affected court operations.