The DA is demanding answers as to why women in need of peace or protection orders from the Philippi Magistrate’s Court and other Western Cape courts are being turned away.
DA spokeswoman on women, children and people with disabilities Helen Lamoela said: “These women are not only being denied access to protection under the law, but they also risk serious threats to their safety, and that of their children, should the court orders they need to protect them from abusive partners not be granted.”
On Wednesday, the Cape Argus reported that women had to queue from about 5am to ensure they were among the first (and only) 20 served for the day.
On Monday, a woman who wanted a protection order against her husband was turned away from the Philippi Magistrate’s Court because she had arrived “too late”.
A court official asked the 29-year-old woman to return the following day because the 20-person limit had been reached.
The Women’s Legal Centre said women had similar experiences at several other court.
The DA slammed Lulu Xingwana, the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, for her response to the matter, saying it was inadequate.
“Her department’s response to the situation in Philippi has been to announce that it will be launching a national council to tackle gender-based violence in August this year. For the women queuing outside the Philippi Magistrate’s Court this is not enough,” Lamoela said.
Lamoela said she would submit questions to Xingwana in Parliament to determine what urgent interventions her department has made to ensure the protection of the women.
She said she would also submit questions to Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe. “I want to know what steps the minister will be taking to ensure that all women who go to this court, and others, will receive the assistance they need,” said Lamoela.
She said Xingwana must take “personal responsibility” for ensuring the women are protected by the state.
“Xingwana is responsible for ensuring that the activities of various government departments are co-ordinated to protect and promote the rights of vulnerable groups. For her not to do so would undermine her department’s very reason for being,” said Lamoela.