‘Statistics show a high domestic violence rate in Athlone’

MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato addresses the community.

The MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato took the department’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign to Kewtown last Wednesday, November 23.

Mr Plato said domestic violence was a major problem on the Cape Flats.

He said women need to speak out about what their husbands and boyfriends were doing to them.

“If we can get more people to speak out, we will create a safer environment for women and children. Crime statistics show that domestic violence in Kewtown and Bokmakierie are quite high and is a major problem. We hope that the people involved will come forward and report cases,” said Mr Plato.

Violence against children in South Africa cost the country R238.58 billion last year. Save the Children, an independent development and rights-based organisation for children, revealed this on the eve of the annual international 16 Days of Actvism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

The campaign started on Friday November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and will run until Saturday December 10 (International Human Rights Day).

A recent report commissioned by Save the Children, Violence Unwrapped, found that the long-term effects of emotional, physical and sexual abuse had a direct impact on the country’s economy.

Gugu Ndebele, chief executive officer of Save the Children, said infringement on the rights of children had become too costly for the country to ignore.

“We were adamant that these findings should be a catalyst for change. This study provided the research we needed to develop high-impact programmes that will drastically reduce violence against children.”

Ward 49 councillor Rashid Adams said violence must come to an end and for that to happen, the community must unite.

“It’s not only the responsibility of SAPS, or law enforcement – you and I have to stop it. The protection of our children is of vital importance. Tomorrow these children are going to be our leaders and if we want them to make the proper decisions, then we have to start nurturing them in the proper way,” said Mr Adams.

Dr Shaun Pekeur, a senior academic at the Management College of Southern Africa, said it was important for children to have a dream and speak out about it.

“We want our kids to be happy, to go to school, and for their parents to love each other. We want no crime in Kewtown because crime is not what we are about. The problem at the moment is that crime, gender violence, and drug abuse comes and steal our joy and hope. You need to stay strong and speak out because we don’t want this anymore,” said Dr Pekeur.

“I always challenge my students with two questions – what is it that you want to become? And what is it that you want your nation or community to become?” he said.

“No matter how old you are, you still need to dream. Your attitude determines your altitude,” he said.

Captain Ian Bennett, spokesman for Manenberg police station, said domestic violence is a contributing factor to the disruptions of many family units which lead to children joining gangs and substance abuse.

“Once women commit themselves to marriage and looking after kids, they don’t allow abuse, but they take the abuse to give their children a stable life. Many people think that domestic violence only occurs in poor communities, but it ranges from poverty-stricken women to women who are well off. The sad thing is that no one and nothing will change (some of) their minds. Sometimes only after 50 years they will leave their husbands and they’ll say they left after so long because they hoped the relationship would improve. By that time their children are bigger and can look after themselves,” said Captain Bennett.

He also said mothers should have a good relationship with their sons and teach them to respect their mothers and other women.

“What a woman allows is what will continue, but the community also need to help these women to come forward and report the abuse,” he added.

Albert Fritz, MEC for Social Development, said the department had prioritised the development and protection of the province’s 1.7 million children and 2.1 million women beyond the 16-day commemorative period.

He said through the Children and Families programme and the Victim Empowerment sub-programme, the department provides key services to women and children at risk 365 days a year.

Mr Fritz said they received a combined budget of R654.2 million which has increased by R14 million from last year.

“The budget has allowed the department to initiate innovative projects and expand services across the province,” he said.

The project includes the 100 beds at Khuseleka Centre (Saartjie Baartman Shelter), that expanded and launched a new residential wing earlier this year and drug treatment facility to treat abused victims who are addicted to drugs and babies with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Other events related to the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign includes Air Your Dirty Laundry to be hosted by the Saartjie Baartman Centre. This is an annual event which provides an artistic platform for children from the surrounding areas to communicate their experience of violence in the community. The event will take place at the Saartjie Baartman Centre in Manenberg tomorrow Thursday December 1, at 10am.

There was also an event at the Epilepsy South Africa offices in Lansdowne yesterday, Tuesday November 29, where guest speakers from Molo Songololo, Mosaic, and Saartjie Baartman explained the services they render as well as procedures for victims of abuse to follow. See page 12 for more information about the campaign.

Residents can report any cases of abuse of women and children to social workers at the Department of Social Development’s regional or local offices, or by contacting the DSD hotline on 0800 220 250.