Johannesburg - The Commission for Gender Equality will have foot soldiers working with the police to combat violence against women and children during 21- day Covid-19 lockdown, its spokesperson Javu Baloyi said.
Baloyi made the promise following Police Minister Bheki Cele’s warning that during this period where every family member will be at home, women and children might encounter abuse from men.
Addressing the media in Pretoria on Wednesday on how police would enforce the shutdown, Cele said he had noted that there was a fear of the possibility of gender-based violence as a result of alcohol being consumed at home as taverns and shebeens would be closed.
Baloyi said the commission was also expecting a “difficult” period, with an increase of emotional, psychological and verbal abuse.
“Some people are naturally just vulgar. Some of these abusers are hardly at home, and they come back in their own time,” he said.
Baloyi said the commission would not close as it had been granted essential service provider status.
He said he was expecting his cellphone to be “working non-stop” as he would be coordinating all nine provinces “to ensure that we limit this abuse”.
“We will be going with the police as the commission to attend to the cases. In every province the provincial managers, legal officers, senior managers, spokesperson and some commissioners are being accredited by police.
“So we will be on the ground, and we won’t be closing,” he said.
He said the commission had started circulating its helpline numbers though all media platforms.
He said victims of emotional abuse would be referred to social workers and psychologists “through the SAPS and Department of Social Development”.
“The gender-based command centre number is 0800 428 428.
He said people can also call toll free numbers 0800 007 709 or 0800 150 150.
Cele also said the police would take extra measures to deal with family violence.
“We have plans in place to beef up our Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units to deal with this threat,” he said.