Many social issues have come under the spotlight as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, and domestic violence is one that continues to impact thousands of South Africans who are confined to their homes.

The spike in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) since the start of the lockdown has sent shockwaves across the country. In the first week alone, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has recorded 2300 complaints of GBV. However, many remain unreported.

The latest statistics are yet to be released.

In the video below SABC News discusses Gender-Based Violence:

40-year-old, Welheminah Mmako, nearly lost her life on Good Friday. Her partner of 25 years woke her up in the middle of the night questioning her about phone calls she’d been receiving throughout the day.

Mmako says the man, with whom she has five children,  began to attack her with a hammer and a knife. She suffered head injuries and a broken arm.

The Mpumalanga mother says her partner, who is still at large, also threatened to kill the children if they shouted for help. It was the children’s defiance that saved Mmako.

Neighbours responded to the screams, which saw the alleged perpetrator flee his house. Police are still looking for him.

“In order to find peace, he must be arrested. I don’t want to ever see him in my life. I don’t want him near my children because he can’t be trusted anymore. He wanted to do to the kids what he did to me,” says Mmako.

Mmako’s story is not an isolated case. Many are going through the same ordeal during this period.

Surprising and shocking

Dr. Lesley Ann Foster of the Masimanyane Women’s International Rights group says the spike in GBV cases during this period has been surprising and shocking. She says they’ve noted some worrying trends during the lockdown.

“One of the other things that we are picking up is that we manage three Thuthuzela centres , these are 24-hour post-rape support services and we are seeing a spike in the number of incest cases and marital rape. That also has to do with the lockdown period and I think that’s quite a shock to the system to see and the numbers are rising quite a lot.”

Foster says the lockdown has undoubtedly created greater vulnerability as women are subjected to constant violence. Masimanyane has had to take women into different shelters during this time, which has been challenging.

“What we’ve seen is that there’s a greater vulnerability. We’ve also had to take more women into our shelter and that can be quite problematic because the regulation requires us to have isolation. If we women are taken to the shelter at this point in time they have to be taken into isolation to protect other women that are in the shelter.”

With the Social Development Department’s command centre having recorded over 12 000 calls since the lockdown it is clear that something needs to be done soon to assist those trapped in their homes with their abusers.

The department and the police were not available for comment.

In the video below the increase of GBV is looked at: