Stakeholders aim to address gender-based violence

Stakeholders gather at Lentegeur SAPS on Friday January 31.

Social Development MEC, Sharna Fernandez, recently led a stakeholder engagement at Lentegeur police station with SAPS, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the premier’s department, and the provincial departments of Community Safety and Education to address violence against women and children in Mitchell’s Plain.

It followed the launch of the 365 Campaign for No Violence Against Women and Children in Cape Town in December last year.

The meeting identified service delivery gaps and challenges, with the objective of ensuring ongoing support from all relevant government and civil society organisations.

It was also agreed that a standard operating procedure to improve the co-ordination efforts of those tasked with addressing violence against women and children in the Mitchell’s Plain area, needed to be created.

In Mitchell’s Plain, 176 cases of sexual offences were reported of which, 97 cases were incidents of rape during the past financial year. These numbers do not include the large numbers of cases that go unreported.

Ms Fernandez said a victim-centred approach should be used in all interventions to address violence against women and children.

“In doing so, gaps in interventions must be addressed through the design of new interventions,” she said. “We need to ensure that interventions are community-based and networking in the forms of task teams and community forums must be established, and existing platforms strengthened. This will enable the identification of community needs and the development of appropriate interventions at local level,” said Ms Fernandez.

Addressing the high number of sexual offences through collaborative efforts was a key discussion point made during the stakeholder engagement, said Ms Fernandez.

“Only a whole of society approach through the efforts of all spheres of society can help curb the pressure we experience on our available services.

“We need communities, and civil society organisations to work with the government to help alleviate the high levels of trauma and violence taking place in our communities,” she said.

New Creations Outreach, a non-profit organisation that advocates for people affected and victims of gender-based violence, will be part of the collaboration with SAPS.

They will be supporting victims of gender-based violence in their cases, doing victim empowerment, home assessments for victims and their cases and attending court hearings with the victims on request from them, said the founder of New Creations Outreach, Alvina Spike.

Ms Spike said her organisation has a project called Break My Silence, for victims of gender-based violence. They are also working closely with the domestic violence office at Mitchell’s Plain SAPS.

The project started in 2018 to empower, educate and strengthen women who are victims of gender-based violence.

“One of our biggest challenges in these cases is poverty – victims would drop the case either because of finances or having to wait long periods for someone to see to the case. We need to break these cycles,” said Ms Spike.

Ms Spike’s organisation, which also turns one year this year, needs more volunteers to assist with victim support. They are currently a team of seven people, five women and two men. Men will not be excluded, if they wish to come forward with gender-based violence cases, she said.“God has brought this organisation this far, and the support of the community is needed and appreciated.We will continue to fight for our women and children in our community. We do not have office space but that does not stop us from supporting and helping our community,” she said.

For more information on New Creations Outreach, call Ms Spike on 073 931 6029 or email alvina@newcreationsoutreach.org.za