Hundreds protest against GBV-linked crimes in the city

Anti-GBV protest in Athlone.

Anti-GBV protest in Athlone.

Published Nov 25, 2023


Hundreds of activists and residents took to the streets in Athlone to raise awareness about gender-based violence-related crimes in the city.

The peaceful protest, hosted by the Callas Foundation along Klipfontein Road, was supported by various organisations as well as police, and served to provide a platform for victims to reach out.

Among the crowd were state prosecutors from the Athlone Magistrate’s Court, police officers from Manenberg and Athlone, neighbourhood watches and sports clubs.

The group gathered with posters and lined the road where they were cheered on by passing motorists, some of whom asked for assistance.

Founder Caroline Peters says while various organisations across the country launch their initiatives as part of the 16 Days of No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, the organisation deals with horrific cases all year round.

Anti-GBV protester Caroline Peters.

“As an organisation we provide counselling and court support on a daily basis for victims who have suffered some of the most horrific cases. Each year we see an increase in GBV cases and it seems nothing changes.”

She says members of the team at Callas work hard to build partnerships with police, the judiciary and the National Prosecuting Authority. They have welcomed recent legislative changes, including the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.

“There are some significant changes which will require police officers to check up on victims in cases where a protection order has been granted and the perpetrator still lives on the same property. In cases where victims do not respond electronically, the officers then have the right to force entry to make sure the victim is okay,” Peters says.

“Now this is great in theory, but in practice we know it will fall short because resources at police stations are low.

Cops joined in the anti-GBV protest in Athlone.

“This is where we, as organisations and individuals, can help fight the scourge of violence in our communities.” Among those who attended was Patricia Timotheus, 74, who is accused of stabbing her abusive husband to death.

The elderly woman, who is now preparing to defend herself against murder charges with the help of the Women’s Legal Centre, was released on R10 00 bail by the Athlone Magistrate’s Court.

At the time of the incident, her family revealed that she was emotionally and verbally abused by the 72-year-old man who had a drinking problem.

“I endured verbal abuse for 35 years and always thought it was normal. I always thought that what was being said was okay, because he wasn’t hitting me,” she says.

“My advice to any victim is to rather come forward and say something. I kept quiet and look what happened.”

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