Honourable Speaker, after reading this report I came to the conclusion that says WOMAN, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.
It starts with this very institution that we are members of. We went on public participation without any prior work being done, and we expected to find stakeholders when no staff were sent prior to prepare for the activities.
Should we then be surprised that across the province the meetings were not well attended by stakeholders?
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance! It is crucial that I highlight this before we deal with the report.
The report highlights the lack of coordination in the fight against Gender-Based Violence and women empowerment across the province.
It is a common finding across all districts that women caucuses are not functional, under-resourced or non-existent. There is no appetite from the municipalities to ensure the establishment of these committees and a lack of support for them to reach their full potential.
Local government is a sphere of government that is closest to the people, it is where the rubber hits the tar, if functional, it will have the biggest impact.
The Honourable Premier and the president have established GBV steering committees, but their functionality and impact will be minor if at a local level there is no coordination. What impact can those steering committees have if there is nothing on the ground?
I understand the sensitivity of GBV and how angry it makes people feel, but we also need to look at how women caucuses can drive issues of economic empowerment.
There is little to no focus on this very important aspect, because financial dependency is a huge hurdle for women leaving abusive situations.
Many women experiencing abuse rely on their partner for financial support, to pay for essentials like food and housing. When they leave, they may not be able to meet their children’s basic needs.
Working with women to build their financial literacy, grow their life and work skills, and to get in touch with income-generating opportunities, will empower them to build their own financial means, find security, a sense of dignity and start again.
The DA applauds the concept of Thuthuzela centres. Under a capable state this would be an excellent initiative.
But, currently there are not enough centres, with districts such as the Joe Gqabi district having none! It is crucial that every hospital have one.
Furthermore, these centres are not well capacitated, there is a lack of specialists, lack of access to resources. You find the social workers not having tools of trade, no rape kits.
I recently had to assist in a rape case of a minor, firstly the police took hours to come. I had to call MEC Gxothiwe and Lusithi, before the police came.
Even then, there was no vehicle to take the victim to Grey Hospital, because we couldn’t place her in the same vehicle with the accused. I had to use my own car.
On our way the police officer said let’s go to Tamara police station to collect a rape kit, because we might arrive in the Grey hospital Thuthuzela centre and not find a rape kit. So to be safe let’s bring one from Tamara police station.
This is just one example of how our communities have to struggle with our system, our government.
What made me angry was when the perpetrator in this case had to appear in court, the police did not bring him before the magistrate.
I sat there until the court finished its business, but he was not there even though he was still in custody. The police in KWT did not bother to bring him, until I had to make calls, because his 48hrs was coming to an end on that day. Had I not been there to make sure he was brought to court he would have been released, and who knows what would have happened after?
The issue of the DNA labs still remains a huge obstacle in serving justice for our people, some perpetrators are roaming around freely, continuing with their evil acts and causing more harm, because the DNA results take forever to return.
The president called us to parliament in 2019 and promised a speedy resolution to this matter, but two years later not much has changed.
We need a government that gets things done, a government that pays lip service on issues such as GBV.
Sizakutoytoya kude kube nini kwezi courts?
The DA calls for the finalisation the DNA bill, which compels Schedule 8 offenders to submit their DNA samples to the national forensic DNA database.
This can help link cases to offenders and help the police to track them.
Unfortunately, this Act is sitting with the cabinet and gathering dust since 2017.
The DNA processing backlog crisis is serious and leads to miscarriage of justice, the President must deliver on his promise.
Woman you are on your own!
It is disturbing to learn that women councillors are not taking the women caucus seriously. When taken seriously this committee can lead to a well-coordinated fight for full emancipation of women.
We need to mobilise ourselves and fight this battle with the utmost tenacity.
Policies or laws do not change the hearts and minds of people we have bill of rights that speak about Equality, Right to Life and Right to dignity and yet we learn each day about violence against women.
We must be a value-driven province that educates and empowers its people, the values of freedom and fairness must be translated to peoples lived experiences if we are to see change.