The Gauteng Department of Community Safety says gender-based violence spiked in the past few months as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic.

The Gauteng Government has launched the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Data Management Command Centre at the Ikhaya Lethemba Victim Empowerment centre in Johannesburg.

It is intended to give support and care to victims of gender-based violence and will also track responses to their needs.

The Gauteng government’s Merita Grant says it’s disheartening to see how many suffered at the hands of the perpetrators as tighter lockdown regulations were enforced.

‘There was an immediate spike as from May. We have 23 shelters in Gauteng that specialise in gender-based violence, and our shelters were full to capacity. In terms of our medical, legal facilities, that where our GBV victims go to, for physical care after a rape, a sexual offence or a gender-based violence incidence. It is concerning that women opted to move away from home and leave elder children at home.”

According to Grant, the system allows different departments to work as one.

“A lot of our services are disaggregated. And it does not speak to the victim at one time. With this data management system what we want to achieve is having the ability to record what services this client is being offered to help within the criminal justice system, within the journey of psychotherapy support. We will be able to see that a victim came in during this time and we will be able to track what services have been offered to this client.”

State of emergency

The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) made strong propositions to tackle gender-based violence against women and children. They believed the government was being complacent in dealing with issues that affected women.

The scourge is now regarded as the ‘other pandemic’ plaguing South Africa, with many victims, especially women, brutally killed over the years. As part of efforts to address the problem, back in 2019 ANC NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane said the Women’s League was calling on the government to declare gender-based violence a state of emergency.

Mokonyane said even parliament had to be involved in the fight against the abuse and violence against women and children through a legislative process.