Plan to combat gender-based violence

Wasiela Henry, Louise Petersen, Beverly Pretorious, and Ilhaam Bester from Manenberg.

The announcement was made at the Athlone Stadium on Saturday November 23, ahead of the annual commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism
for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, which runs from November 25 to December 10.

Scores of people packed the Athlone Stadium in anticipation of the mayor’s speech. He said the community task teams would include criminologists, psychologists, and social welfare officers who would work with religious bodies, community forums, neighbourhood watches, community members, and the City of Cape Town’s social development department. This, Mr Plato said, would cost the City an initial R2 million.

The task teams will be required to submit reports after conducting interviews with residents, religious bodies, and other community stakeholders about the underlying issues and causes of violence in their communities. The findings of the surveys will form a study and will be used for future operations, said Mr Plato.

The scope of the work to be done will be determined by the community dynamics and is expected to include a series of workshops and other interventions. The task team will have to submit reports and the progress of the project will be monitored by the mayor’s office to assess how effective it is.

More details on the task team will be announced when it becomes operational at the end of January 2020.

The team will be dispatched to crime-infested areas such as Manenberg, Bonteheuwel, Hanover Park, Nyanga, Lavender Hill, Ocean View, Dunoon, Khayelitsha, Atlantis, Elsies River, and Kraaifontein, among other areas.

Mr Plato said the past year’s crime stats showed that sexual assault in the Western Cape had increased by 3% and contact sexual offences by 19%. He said common assault increased by nearly 2% and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm increased by 4%.

“We need to bring down the number of crimes committed against women and children. Currently we are facing major problems as you are aware and the figure is not coming down. So this is another major intervention to help communities unravel why this is so pertinent in specific sections of society. We need to do something different – this is an ongoing problem,” he said.

Mr Plato said despite previous interventions and research done by the City, the numbers still had not dropped. He added that transformation of communities, including addressing the social and developmental issues such as the lack of housing, needed to go along with the intervention to transform the areas holistically.

“Too often we see stories of men harming those whom they should protect and support. We must cherish our wives, mothers, sisters and friends. We must change the behaviour of men so that the cycle of abuse comes to an end,” he said.

Fowzia Veerasamay, chairperson of the Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch, said communities needed an action plan now – not next year. “We are not taking what he has said lightly. We are hopeful that we are going to get the assistance that we need.

“We need it to happen now not when the season starts, we need it all the time. We need a sustainable programme to happen now, especially over the festive season and when children go to school. Our communities need to come together on this,” she said.

Graham Lindhorst, chairperson of the Bishop Lavis Community Police Forum, said the City didn’t need to spend money to find out what the underlying causes of violence on the Cape Flats were. He said residents knew what the causes were and they were willing to communicate with government about it. “They think that they know where to deploy funds and where we need resources, but they don’t, we do. They need to sit down with us and find out where that money can be spent and put it to good use, there is a lot that we can do with that money,” he said.