Victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking who live in Gauteng shelters have received donations of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The donations were made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in South Africa who also donated the same equipment to Home Affairs immigration officers.
Speaking at the handover in Pretoria on Wednesday, the head of UNODC in the southern Africa region, Zhuldyz Akisheva, said it was important that the UN should come to the aid of abused women and female victims of human trafficking living in shelters during these difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are glad that, as part of the United Nations family in South Africa, UNODC has managed to quickly react to the requests of our key national partners,” said Akisheva.
The first delivery of personal protective supplies included 100 litres of sanitiser, 140 boxes of face masks and 170 boxes of medical gloves to UNODC partners working with vulnerable communities.
“This assistance was timely as currently shelters lack basic protection equipment. We cannot protect either our customers or workers who are available 24/7 to provide so much needed support. We are grateful to the UN for giving us a helping hand during these times of difficulties,” said Rudo Mahusa, director of the Mali Martin Polokegong Centre and a representative for Gauteng in the National Shelter Movement.
“The goal of Mali Martin is to continue making a difference in the lives of people and families affected by violence. With the help of donations like yours, we will continue to see improvements in our programmes,” she added.
The Department of Home Affairs, whose deployed immigration officers will use the equipment in border operations as well as at the Mercy House and Childline South Africa, two of the organisations that provide shelter to victims of GBV and human trafficking in Pretoria.
UNODC supports several shelter houses in dire need of assistance and this equipment will be used by patients and staff from the shelters, according to the UN.
Despite an increase in the number of women facing violence during the coronavirus lockdown, shelter houses in Gauteng still have adequate capacity to provide more shelter to victims.
Mercy House is the only accredited shelter in Pretoria for victims of human trafficking. It provides shelter and basic comforts to survivors of domestic violence, victims of human trafficking and their children. It ensures that women receive adequate professional care and enables family reunification and rehabilitation where feasible. To date the shelter has accommodated 2,916 women and 500 children.
The Mali Martin Polokegong Centre provides safety, emergency and temporary accommodation to women and children who have been exposed to violence, including human trafficking. The centre provides social services, including security, counselling, medical and educational assistance as well as empowerment skills through training, children's programmes and social groups.
By Wednesday, the number of Covid-19 fatalities in South Africa had risen by seven, bringing the death toll to 34, while the number of confirmed infections had risen to 2,506, according to the Ministry of Health.