Picture: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay
Picture: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

Lockdown prevented report of GBV cases - Lifeline

By Bongani Hans Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Johannesburg - Fear of breaking the Covid-19 national lockdown regulations had led to fewer people going to police stations to report gender-based violence (GBV).

This was stated by Lifeline South Africa Durban director Pravisha Dhanapalan. 

Dhanapalan said her organisation, which works hand-in-hand with police stations and hospitals, had discovered that many people were unaware that they were free to walk into police stations and Thuthuzela Care Centre offices to report cases during lockdown. She said had they been aware, there might have been a bigger number of GBV reported cases than the 80 000 figures that Lifeline revealed this week, as mostly reported telephonically.

“From the beginning of May we went to almost every community radio station to inform the public that our services are available. 

“Then we found numbers increased as people physically came into the police stations to report the matters, asked for protection orders or they came in to the Thuthuzela Care Centres which are based at the hospitals,” said Dhanapalan. 

She said although people knew that Lifeline had offices in almost every police station and hospital, they lacked knowledge they could access these facilities during the lockdown. 

“The cases that are reported telephonically have increased, and those that are reported at hospitals and police stations have decreased as people fear the lockdown.

“A lot of people did not know that we were still rendering services at the hospitals and police stations and Thuthuzela Care Centres (during the lockdown),” she said.

She was not in a position to reveal how many cases that had since been reported at police stations and Thuthuzela centres.

Dhanapalan said rape and assault dominated cases, which were reported to Lifeline, and there were few murders.

The national Department of Social Development’s GBV Command Centre had its own latest stats, which indicated that during the lockdown period it received more than 54 000 complaints. 

According to GBV Command Centre statistics more than 10 000 cases had been reported through the call centre, WhatsApp and SMSs during the lockdown level four alone across the country. 

During her visit to Greater Kokstad Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal social development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza heard from Mayor Bheki Mtolo that some municipal workers were due to face disciplinary actions for committing GBV offences.  Mtolo did not give figures 

“To hear that the municipality is prepared to take action against those who are violating law is highly appreciated.   

“We want to say to other municipalities and government departments that they should also take actions against perpetrators,” she said. 

Khoza’s spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said social workers were hard at work providing trauma counseling to the victims. 

“The problem is that the figures would be released by the police minister.

“There might be stats released by social workers in terms of how many victims they dealt with, but we cannot give the actual numbers,” said Memela. 

In a statement, ANC Women’s League in KwaZulu-Natal called on women not to suffer in silence during the lockdown. 

“We call on victims of GBV to report such incidents so that perpetrators can be dealt with by law enforcement agencies.

“Equally, the ANCWL is worried that some cases don't see the light of the day as the victims withdraw changes,” read the statement.  

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said police Minister Bheki Cele was supposed to talk about GBV on Thursday during a press briefing that had been postponed for next week. 

“I don’t have stats at the moment. It (GBV) definitely decreased, that one I can tell you,” said Naidoo. 

Political Bureau

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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