Public protector to probe GBV victim support system
Cape Town – The public protector (PP) will launch a nationwide investigation into how the gender-based violence (GBV) victim support system is working and the challenges that plague it.
This was inspired by murder of Altecia Kortje, who was killed in Belhar last year, allegedly by an ex-boyfriend.
The PP investigated officials at Bellville Magistrate’s Court on allegations that they had turned Kortje, 27, away when she needed help with a domestic violence issue.
The institution yesterday cleared them of any wrongdoing, and said the case “inspired” them to launch a nationwide investigation.
“Through the investigation, the Public Protector seeks to see to it that the system that is currently in place to assist victims of GBV is less cumbersome, more welcoming, accommodating and user-friendly.
’’It will be a two-pronged investigation, with the other leg focusing on the systemic challenges pertaining to issues of child maintenance,” a statement on Twitter read.
Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka visited the family this week to share the findings of their investigation, which found Kortje had visited the court on June 8 – days before her murder – for a protection order against her former Ryan Smith, but she had not completed the form as it was “too much writing and that the officials at court explained to her a lot of things”.
Anti-GBV activist and director of Philisa Abafazi Bethu, Lucinda Evans, said: “The entire justice system needs an overhaul that protects the bodies and lives of GBV victims and survivors.
“Magistrates and judges need to be re-trained on what victims and survivors go through. It is atrocious what they have to go through in a justice system that continues to fail us.
’’Constitutional changes need to be made because as women and children we are not protected,” said Evans.
Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery, who wrote to the PP to look into Kortje’s case, said he welcomed the look in to the system.
“The prevention and combating of domestic violence, GBV and intimate femicide is an utmost priority.
’’It is for this reason that the minister of Justice and Correctional Services has recently tabled three new bills in Parliament to tighten up the laws to protect victims of GBV.
“But laws are only as good as the people implementing them – therefore we must ensure that public servants who work at the coalface, in our courts, always serve the public well and that systems are continuously improved,” said Jeffery.