Although the various provincial departments, under the guidance of the ANC, have been outspoken about fighting against the ever-rising pandemic of gender-based violence (GBV), the actual services rendered to victims have decreased.
How can the ANC government claim that they are serious about fighting the scourge of GBV when in real terms, they are cutting budgets and closing the very facilities that have been established to assist people in their time of need?
The recent reports of the treatment of Zenizole Vena, who escaped from being gang raped, to be treated with heartless indifference, shows just how far we have to go before survivors of GBV receive the respect and compassion they deserve.
In response to a parliamentary question from the DA, it has been revealed that the number of support centres in the form of shelters, safe homes and one-stop centres for victims of GBV has decreased over the past five years in the province.
New Social Development MEC, Bukiwe Fanta, revealed the budget for shelter services was decreased by R2,5 million since 2018/19.
In the 2018/19 financial year, 19 shelters were available to victims of GBV. In the current 2022/23 financial year, there are only 15 shelters open in the Eastern Cape. The number of safe homes for GBV victims decreased from 15 to only 11, with no safe homes in the Chris Hani and OR Tambo districts, even while 73 cases of rape were opened at the Lusikisiki police station in the OR Tambo district between April and June of this year.
The available number of one-stop centres for GBV victims has remained at four since 2018/19, with no centres in the Alfred Nzo, Amathole, Buffalo City Metro and Sarah Baartman districts.
Between April and June 2022, 1513 cases of rape were reported in the Eastern Cape. In comparison, just 109 victims have sought assistance at these one-stop centres in the current financial year.
Shockingly, before the 2021/22 financial year, the Department of Social Development did not even record the number of victims who utilised the services offered by these entities, although a budget was available and taxpayers’ monies were spent.
GBV is not new to the people of the Eastern Cape. It has been an ever-growing pandemic that has been the reality for millions of people in our province.
This scourge will only be overcome through an interdepartmental collaboration that deals with the myriad of social issues that lead to GBV.
The DA will continue to fight for our women and children to live in a country where they do not have to live in fear of becoming a victim of abuse and where the necessary support is available to those who do.