Minister Fernandez visits DSD funded Safe houses in recognition of International Women’s Day

In recognition of International Women’s Day and in an effort to fight the ongoing scourge of violence against women and children in South Africa, the Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez visited DSD funded Shelters for women and children in the Southern Peninsula area.

The Minister also used the visit to experience the best practices of well-run safe houses in the Western Cape first-hand, and to showcase the dedication and commitment of so many care-givers in our province. They are our heroes.

This visit follows the announcement by the National Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille, that six government-owned properties in the Western Cape will be made available to be used as safe havens for women and children.

Minister Fernandez said: “South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. This form of violence is the most common and widespread human rights abuse in South Africa. Every day, women are murdered, physically and sexually assaulted, threatened and humiliated by their partners, within their homes, which ought to be a place of safety. I am determined to do everything I can to reduce this from happening here in the Western Cape. Enough is enough.”

The Western Cape Department of Social Development, through its Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP), is responsible for providing victim support services that includes safe and secure accommodation, psycho-social support and empowerment of victims of crime and violence. Moreover, the programme focuses on victim-centered approach to crime and strives towards developing knowledge of victim issues, strengthening resources, addressing needs of the victims, and especially the prevention of secondary victimisation.

DSD currently funds 16 shelters in the Western Cape that can accommodate victims and their children up to 3 months, and 4 emergency shelters that accommodate victims for up to two weeks.

The Department’s role in this system is to provide shelters for women who are victims of violence, trauma support services for victims of violence at hospital-based Thuthuzela centres, as well as longer term specialised trauma counselling. The department’s total budget for these services in the current financial year is R46m, an increase from R14m in 2014.

“We need to have a whole of society approach to strengthen our nation’s efforts against women and child abuse,” concluded Minister Fernandez.

MEDIA RELEASE BY Sharna Fernandez
Date: 08 March 2020