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Hard lockdown imposed additional demands and expenses for GBV shelters, report says

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children hit by the reality of shelter (for GBV victims) underfunding by the government is seeking to raise R650 000 during the 16 days of activism. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children hit by the reality of shelter (for GBV victims) underfunding by the government is seeking to raise R650 000 during the 16 days of activism. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 3, 2021

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Cape Town - A recently released report on the state of domestic violence shelters in the country during the first six months of the lockdown revealed that the pandemic had imposed new demands with additional expenses while they were left to their own devices by the government.

Titled “Adapting to Disaster” the report by the National Shelter Movement and Heinrich Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation was drawn on interviews at 28 shelters in eight provinces and outlines how shelters adapted to the lockdown and identified the multiple processes and actors that enabled them to do so.

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It also looked at shelter’s admission and occupancy rates during the first six months of the lockdown.

Lead research consultant Lisa Vetten said most of these shelters were “running around like headless chickens” to prepare for the lockdown.

She said these unanticipated costs came at the end of the financial year, where shelters eked out the last of the year’s funds and were uncertain as to when the next tranche of funds would arrive from the Department of Social Development.

Vetten said despite the host of unplanned costs, there had been no increase to shelters’ funding.

She said shelters entered lockdown having made scant preparations and with little guidance on working within the constraints of a public health emergency.

Fisani Mahlangu from the National Shelter Movement said while the previous year was difficult as a movement they had taken lessons from the pandemic.

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“We are in a better space now when we look at what we know in rendering better services and arming ourselves against challenges that may arise.

“The knowledge and the financial resources that we received assisted us to be better service providers. Our wish is for the sheltering sector in the country to have quality data collection mechanisms to be used when a research need to be commissioned and for evidence purposes,” Mahlangu said.

S’busiso Malope from the National Department of Social Development (DSD) said the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure had initiated a project looking at identifying public buildings that would be earmarked for sheltering purpose found across the country.

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He said the department was also looking at establishing more Khuseleka One Stop Centres across the country.

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Cape Argus

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