De Lille hands shelter to GBV victims
Parliament - The fight against gender-based violence (GBV) was given a shot in the arm on Wednesday when Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille handed over six government-owned buildings to the Social Development Department for use as shelter for victims of gender-based violence.
This comes months after her department handed over four properties in Pretoria to the Department of Social Development in December.
Briefing the media in Parliament, De Lille said the buildings were in the Garden Route, West Coast and Central Karoo district in the Western Cape as well as two others in the City of Johannesburg.
She said the country was in a crisis and women and children were under siege.
"With all the interventions to fight GVB, the government alone can't do it alone. We need the help of the private sector, civil society, community-based organisations and community themselves to deal with this scourge," she said.
De Lille also said statistics showed that violence against women and children was rampant most in Gauteng Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
"That does not mean we are not prioritising all provinces. We are currently looking at all nine provinces where we can find unused buildings that belong to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, and we then set aside a budget to renovate, clean them up and make sure they are safe houses that can be used by our communities," she said.
De Lille said they knew that many women stayed in abusive relations because they depended, among others, on their partners.
"We say to women 'you don't need to stay in that relationship but walk away from the abusive relationship.’ That is why as a government we want to make shelters available across the country to help our women," she said.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said it was their responsibility to empower women so that they could decide to go somewhere when abused, but that could not be possible without creating that conducive environment for women and their children.
"We need to have concrete action that we need to do in terms of dealing with the sick society we talk about," she said.
Zulu thanked De Lille for taking up the issue of violence against women and children instead of focusing only on infrastructure related matters in her portfolio.
"As we call on other departments, we are saying as the department of social dvelepment this burden we have in South Africa is a shame," she said.
"The shame we carry must be a shame for everybody.It must be national shame that that calls us to action," Zulu added.
Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez welcomed the buildings handed to the provincial administration.
"It is important on behalf of the Western Cape government to welcome the initiative. The issue of safe houses, we never had enough," Fernandez said.
"The areas you have identified are exactly those areas we have been focusing on," she said.IOL