The Department of Social Development in the Free State says there is a shortage of shelters for victims of gender-based violence in the province.

Social worker manager, Prudence Ramolehe, says there are only five shelters that can accommodate victims of abuse for up to six months.

Ramolehe says the department’s Safe House can accommodate victims for 72 hours.

“Now with the issue of COVID-19, there’s so much pressure on the shelters to accommodate the people because it has escalated. So we find ourselves in a situation sometimes we have to move a person from another district to another one. So that movement is uprooting the victim and is also in a way not good for the victim. Because we have to move from here to there and the children are going to school in this area and now we have to go and look for a school in another area. It’s not only about the person -it’s about the person and children and the uprooting which can be secondary victimisation.”

The Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF), which works with survivors of gender-based violence, has expressed concern over the rising prevalence of cases. Free State PPF ambassador for gender-based violence and femicide is Mannehileng Letuka.

“We would make sure that we assist our victims in terms of making sure they open the cases and to also make sure that we follow those cases so that proper procedures are followed. So that is one of the assistance that we also offer. Another one is to make sure that if the victim needs assistance in terms of psychological help or we have to involve the social workers that is where we come in as the Progressive Professional Forum in the Free State.”

SABC News focus

SABC News will have a special focus on gender-based violence (GBV) on Thursday 2 September on all its platforms, radio, TV and online.

In his New Year message on 31 December 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa said as countries around the globe battled the coronavirus pandemic, South Africa faced two pandemics; COVID-19 and the scourge of gender-based violence.

“In the face of both these pandemics, South Africans have remained resolute, determined to overcome the virus and determined to end Gender-based Violence., I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to every South African for the courage and the perseverance with which you have confronted this crisis. I want to thank the health and social services workers for taking care of people who are ill hungry or lonely,” the President said.