The Minister and the Department presented the Committee with the Department’s comprehensive plan to address Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) in line with the National Strategic Plan on GBVF, Family Preservation Programmes, and Anti-Substance Abuse Programmes. The meeting took place on a virtual platform
The Ministry said GBV is a non-partisan matter. It does not discriminate between political party, class, where you live or how you live. It is a societal problem, and everyone must work together to combat this issue. It is important to ensure women experiencing abuse have access to appropriate support. This is the essence of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender Based Violence and Femicide, developed in 2018. The NSP provides a multi-sectoral and coordinated national response approved by Cabinet in March 2020.
The Victim Support Services Bill has recently been gazetted for public comments. The Department is urged to mobilise people and to make sure everyone delivers input.
Members asked to get all the information related to the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) report, and asked what the report brings to the NSP.
The Committee asked what the DSD’s contribution to the Victim Support Services Bill (VSS) was, as well as what its contribution is to the amendments of the Domestic Violence Act, and criminal law on Sexual Offence Related Matters Act.
Concerns were raised on how programmes relying mainly on technology will reach and benefit people from poor townships.
The GBV Command Center (GBVCC) was commended for being disability friendly. Members also urged the Department to provide comprehensive statistics on all women who make use of the GBVCC and where they eventually end up.
Members asked for clarity regarding the amount of money allocated to Non Government Organisations, a list of the NGO’s receiving the funds, and a timeline on how long it will take to streamline stipends to these identified NGO’s.
The Committee heard about how important it is to curb alcohol abuse as it is linked to GBV. The Committee agreed with concerns on troubling statistics showing how the youth are trapped in alcoholism. The Committee urged the DSD to actively get involved in the fight against alcoholism.
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee Members, the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, and the Deputy Minister, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu. The matter of gender-based violence (GBV) is being neglected because of the Covid-19 crisis. The Committee needs to focus on it 24hrs a day. The relationship between men and women in South Africa is important for the country to prosper. The Committee would like to visit shelters and other facilities which look at psycho-social issues, related to GBV. He asked everyone to work hand in hand as GBV is not an ideological matter, but a non-partisan matter, where all political parties must work together to fight it. Issues of GBV and issues of corruption move beyond political parties and everyone must be held accountable.
The Chairperson took the Committee through the agenda and asked the Committee to move for adoption of the agenda.
Ms N Mvana (ANC) moved for the adoption of the agenda.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) seconded the adoption.
Foreword by the Minister
The Minister greeted the Committee and the Deputy Minister. She said it is good to be back from the recess, but during the recess she was unable to perform oversight roles as usual. It is difficult to visit different places supported by the Department of Social Development (DSD). She thanked the Chairperson for bringing up the issue of GBV and said it is a non-partisan matter. It does not discriminate between political party, class, where you live, or how you live. It is a societal problem many women, no matter the position a woman finds herself in, faces. Many women do not want to talk about the situation. Women do not want ‘dirty laundry’ out in the open. These are the barriers which must be broken down. It is useless to try and help, when no one wants to talk about it. GBV is an issue which must not be turned into a political football match. Everyone must work together.
The Committee must revert to a community-centred approach, where community committees are created to assist neighbours. The issue of GBV is not something any community would be proud of. There are cases where some men are drunk and brag about beating wives/girlfriends, and other cases where some women talk about how partners beat them from a place of love. It is time to develop programmes assisting with behavioural change in men and women. It does not matter how long the country had democracy, the situation of GBV is urgent. Whenever she receives a call from the MEC of Kwazulu-Natal (KZN), her stomach knots because she is not sure what news she may be getting, after all the bodies discovered in KZN. The cases of GBV in those provinces are extremely high.
The Minister said she knows the Committee takes these matters of GBV very seriously, but there is a weakness between the parties involved. Proper coordination between the Department of Social Development, women, the Department of Justice, and the police is lacking. The work must not rely on incidents happening but should be running 365 days a year. The work done must be seen and felt by the communities on the ground.
The Committee must also call upon different Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) fighting GBV to have a coordinated approach against GBV. It is important to make sure those who experienced abuse have access to the appropriate support, rendered by the Department of Social Development and many other departments. This is the essence of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), developed in 2018. The NSP provides a multi-sectoral and coordinated national response approved by Cabinet in March 2020.
It is a call to action to reach the shared vision of a South Africa free from GBVF. The NSP is anchored on six pillars. These are: accountability, coordination and leadership, prevention and rebuilding social cohesion, justice, safety, and protection, response, care, support, healing, economic power, research, and information management. The Victim Support Service Bill was recently gazetted for public comments. The Minister urged the Department to mobilise people to provide input and to make sure everyone delivers input.
Presentation on Gender Based Violence by the Department of Social Development
Mr Linton Mchunu, Acting Director General (ADG), DSD, took the Committee through the presentation. The purpose of the presentation is to appraise the Committee on the Department’s comprehensive plan to address GBV and femicide, in line with the National Strategic Plan on GBVF, Family Preservation Programmes, and Anti-Substance Abuse Programmes.
Ms Siza Magangoe, Chief Director: Families, DSD, took the Committee through the journey the Department took to develop the NSP.
Pillar 1: accountability, coordination, and leadership (led by the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities)
Pillar 2: prevention and rebuilding social cohesion (led by the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Government Communication and Information System)
Pillar 3: justice, safety, and protection (led by the Department of Justice)
Pillar 4: Response care, support, and healing (led by the DSD)
Pillar 5: economic power (led by the Department of Small Businesses and the Department of Trade and Industry)
Pillar 6: research and information management (led by Statistics South Africa and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation)
Challenges in the implementation of the NSP
Challenges as identified by the sector: Limited capacity of staff within government departments and at local level to address GBV.
- Inconsistent and inadequate funding for GBV programmes across the country.
- Lack of accredited skills development programs in shelters
- Inaccessible psycho-social support services
The game changers
- Strengthen referral pathways.
- Establish locally coordinated GBV structures which report to provincial and national.
- Strengthen and upgrade infrastructure of the current shelters to increase accessibility (for example, family units)
- Rollout the Integrated Information Management System for data collection on GBV matters.
The Department recommended the Portfolio Committee:
- Take note of the DSD Plans in implementing the NSP on GBV and Femicide, 2020-2030 as well as progress on the achievements and challenges within the sector
- Note that at a provincial level MECs are the ambassadors of GBV&F programmes
The Deputy Minister said the Department launched the 0800 150 150 line, in partnership with South African Breweries (SAB) to ensure services are accessed by men. It is a Whatsapp line available for men to reach out without feeling embarrassed. Since it launched, 59 000 men, men who are victims of GBV and perpetrators, reached out and form part of various support programmes. The Committee must note there are three different kinds of shelters. There are highly secure shelters, long stay shelters, and wide door centres of hope, which are community-based shelters.
The Deputy Minister also mentioned the pink drive outreaches, which highlights the contribution of cancer to GBV. The four main cancers involved are, prostate, cervical, testicular, and breast cancer. These outreaches are put in place to make sure men and women are tested for free to make sure persons receive the necessary treatment. Lastly, the command centre is disability friendly as it has sign language interpretation services, which allows disabled women to access the services.
Ms D Ngwenya (EFF) thanked the Department for the presentation. She said her concern is mainly with Pillar Four. It is important the DSD go above and beyond to excel in this area. She asked if the Committee can get all the information on the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) report, and the study conducted on the challenges faced by shelters.
Secondly, she praised the GBV Command Center (GBVCC) on being disability friendly. She stressed, the command center must not just focus on receiving calls and collecting statistics, but rather be reactive to calls received and follow all the procedures to ensure the GBVCC that women are helped.
It is important to have centralised data, because it will assist the Committee a lot with dealing with many situations.
She asked the MEC from every province to present to the Committee with what progress it made within its programmes, as the MEC’S are ambassadors of the GBS programmes in its provinces.
She noted the challenges presented in the presentation of the NSP and said she will send some comments to the Department in writing.
She asked what the DSD’s contribution on the Victim Support Services Bill (VSS) is, as well as the contributions on the amendments of the Domestic Violence Act and Criminal Law Sexual Offences Related Matters Act. She also asked the Department to provide the Committee with a timeline for the development of the inter-sectoral policy on sheltering services, and policy on provision of psycho-social services.
Ms A Abrahams (DA) said the Committee likes to see how the implemented programmes impact the people on the ground, and how these cases can be measured. She said she is happy with the 59 000 men who are accessing the Whatsapp, and are currently in the DSD programmes.
She asked the Department to provide the Committee with data of the women who accessed the GBVCC. She wanted to know how many of those women were successfully removed from violent situations. She also asked how many were successfully placed in the DSD programmes or shelters.
She said the Committee must look at data focusing on the impact of the programmes, because it seems these programmes have no impact, related to annual crime statistics. The numbers keep increasing.
She asked the Department to provide the Committee with a comprehensive report highlighting the data, the challenges, successes, the cases related to GBV, and the cases not related to GBV. She asked the Department to specify the statistics regarding the number of calls received during the alcohol ban, and then during the time the ban was lifted.
She asked how many women are repeat callers.
Lastly, she asked the Department to explain what “beyond the shelter” under Pillar Four means, if it falls under the new Victim Support Services Act.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said she agrees with Minister Zulu regarding the issue of GBV going beyond politics, and everyone needing to work together to fight GBV. She asked the Minister and Deputy Minister what is going on in the Eastern Cape, as there seems to be a problem relating to payments to NPO’s. This affects women’s shelters and old age homes. There were also short payments to organisations in various provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West. She asked if the problem was identified. The Committee cannot keep implementing plans and programmes to help women and children, but then, there are no resources to assist them.
She asked how long it will take to streamline funding to shelters. She said it is important to receive a breakdown of the calls received at the GBVCC, what those calls are, where it is referred to, and how it is handled. It is important to have useful data.
She asked for clarity regarding the amount of money allocated to NGO’s, and if all the NGOs received stipends. She asked if the Department can provide the Committee with a list of NGOs receiving this funding.
She said the pillars not only speak to providing shelters for women but also providing jobs for women. She asked the Department to report on how women’s time was spent at the shelter. She wanted to know what skills were developed, and where the women were rehabilitated. If the Department could present this kind of information to the Committee, it would be especially useful.
Ms L Arries (EFF) said victims of GBV experience high levels of post-traumatic stress. She noted there is a helpline available for those victims, and asked what happens to the victims who do not have access to technology. She asked if these are the only services rendered to those victims.
There is a massive shortage of shelters in South Africa and a need for multi-sectoral post-GBV facilities to work with survivors and victims. When people get out of these shelters there are no post- GBV facilities available.
In Pillar Four, the programmes are mostly digital. She asked what happens to the people in the deep rural areas who do not have access to all the technology and DSTV. She wanted to know what programmes are available to them and how the Department will reach those people.
She asked why the Department of Public Works are absent in the fight against GBV. It has access to many facilities and buildings which could be made into shelters. It is also important to get the Department of Basic Education on board because educational programmes must start at a primary school level. She asked the Committee and the Department to come up with a slogan for GBV.
In Palestine, women wear bracelets to symbolise ‘my body is my property’, to create awareness.
The Department needs to create programmes to empower women and help women be independent.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) thanked the Department for the presentation. She said, before NGO’s or shelters get approval, it must get assistance as it struggles with its structure. She asked the Department how the policy on psycho-social services helps the community. She also asked what measures are in place to ensure the challenge presented in the Commission on Gender Equality report, regarding the state of shelters, are adequately dealt with. She asked how the contribution in the Commission for Gender Equality report, contributes to the NSP.
The Department has a good plan and intentions, but some of the issues raised need more information and more attention must be given to infrastructure and acquiring buildings.
Ms B Masango (DA) thanked the Department for the presentation. She said the fight against GBV is something everyone must fight together. She is excited about the pillars, but hopes it makes a difference. She asked if the NGO’s and the various organisations will have time to tell the Committee about the progress these organisations made in the fight against GBVF.
The database is proving to be a challenge. She asked how far the partnership with the third party is, who the Department was working with to help with the database. She asked the Department to inform the Committee if there is some form of follow up on the women who call in for help.
Mr D Stock (ANC) welcomed the presentation and acknowledged all the work done by the DSD and the Department of Correctional Services. There has been a lot of legislative work done by both departments, and asked what the possibility is of consolidating this into one approach. He asked when the consolidated approach can be expected.
He also asked how the work done by the two departments contribute to the implementation of the NSP for GBV as highlighted according to the six pillars. He asked if the DSD formed a partnership with the Department of Public Works in 2019 as part of the Emergency Response Plan for GBV. It is also important for the Department to keep the Committee informed regarding these partnerships, the process of developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and the contents of this MOU.
Ms K Bilankulu (ANC) acknowledged the research done on the GBV helpline, depicting a picture of GBV victims, who are not willing to open cases and experience high levels of post-traumatic stress. She asked how the NSP for GBV advocate for these victims, and what the research reveals on the state of GBV in the country.
She asked how this information contributed to the intervention by the Department on fighting GBVF.
Lastly, she asked the Department if it received feedback from the Department of Justice on how the GBV cases were handled.
Ms N Mvana (ANC) asked the Department if its targets are in line with those of the NSP. She asked what the solutions to all these challenges are, which are experienced with the Budget.
Ms Magangoe replied to the questions on funding the CSOs, as it was a challenge for some time. The Department is waiting for the policy framework to be approved before these challenges can be resolved. The Department also needs to seek more funding to make sure it has adequate funding to tend to all programmes.
She said the statistics present a challenge because there is not an electronic data base system, but the problem was resolved. The Department is now working with an Inter-Sectoral Justice System (IJS) programme which was agreed upon by all sectors involved, to indicate which areas it will be reporting on. The system is readily available. It just needs to be rolled out.
The Department is still developing the policy for psycho-social services. The intention of the policy is to address this service. There are currently no policies regulating how these services are provided, and the roles of everyone involved. When there is no regulation it becomes messy. For instance, there are too many different people providing trauma counseling but no framework guiding how this must be done. The policy for psycho-social service provides this framework and identifies and specifies the roles of all parties involved.
The timelines for the inter-sectoral shelter policy are on the Annual Performance Plan, and the Department is chasing this target, and is going to achieve it, within this financial year.
The Department appreciates all the input regarding the GBVCC, and will investigate it. The GBCC was initially just a phone-in service referring callers to immediate counseling, and if further counselling is needed the caller is referred to programmes at a local level.
The Department will investigate tracking the follow ups and what happens to the caller once these services were given.
Mr Mchunu said the GBVCC moved to new premises which are much bigger, and can accommodate more staff. The Department would like to provide big screens showing real-time data from across the country. He invited the Committee to go and view the Centre.
The Department wants to investigate an implementation and evaluation study to help see what is happening on the ground, and determine the challenges and successes of all programmes. This study will also assist in future policy making.
There is a shortage of shelters and this continues to be a challenge, but some areas highlighted in the presentation have shelters in rural areas. In certain cases, such as provinces like the Eastern Cape, it can be attributed to the Covid-19 crisis, strikes, and because proper oversight could not be done because of restrictions.
Ms Totsie Memela-Khambula, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), said the fund is R100 million. The breakdown of it is R45 million according to the MOU signed by the Department. R 5 million will be for administration work implemented by the NDA since the start of the programme. 135 NPOs and organisations benefited from these funds - so far R17.4 million was transferred.
The Deputy Minister said she will send detailed input from the Department regarding the Domestic Violence Act and Criminal Law Sexual Offences Related Matters Act. It centres on strengthening protective measures for women and children, such as improving protection orders, child marriages, statutory rape, and sheltering.
Minister Zulu said the Members must be aware of how the Department works at an executive level and in collaboration with other departments. The Department must make a formal presentation regarding operations. Work done by the Minister and Deputy Minister sometimes gets lost, as the focus is always on the programmes. It is important to be aware, and report on the Members and the constituency duties and findings.
The Chairperson said the challenges highlighted regarding the psycho-social policy must be addressed in a meeting.
Five urgent strategies to reduce the harm of excessive alcohol consumption in South Africa
Dr David Harrison, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), DG Murray Trust, presented the Committee with strategies to curb alcohol abuse linked to GBV. This petition arose from a letter written by the DG of Murray Trust and signed by 160 other academics, researchers, and other officials, in response to the GBV crisis.
It is important to address the topic of alcohol and its role in GBV crimes to make a significant impact in the fight against GBV.
He took the Committee through the economic benefits and cost of the alcohol industry in South Africa, and the association between alcohol excess and societal harm. He highlighted the role apartheid played in creating the culture of heavy drinking in South Africa and the vicious cycle of social and economic marginalisation.
He made a case for five specific interventions proven to work worldwide, namely:
- The case for a comprehensive ban on alcohol advertising
- The case for raising the price of alcohol: Technical terms
- The case for lowering the legal drink-drive limit
- The case for reducing ease of access to alcohol
- The case for greater access to counseling and treatment
He recommended a concerted inter-governmental and inter-departmental strategy to achieve mutually reinforcing effects, led by DSD. He also suggested the government finalise existing legislation urgently to reduce GBV.
The Chairperson said there is no debate on discouraging the abuse of alcohol but implementing it can present a challenge. He said it is correct to say DSD must take charge in this fight.
Ms Ngwenya said she is incredibly happy with the presentation and hopes it brings a change in the country. It is concerning, young boys between the age of 15-20 are already heavy drinkers. Alcohol abuse is killing the youth and it is important to make sure banning the advertising of alcohol, receives attention. It entices young people into buying alcohol. The ease of alcohol in townships is a concern.
In every street there is a tavern. The liquor board needs to stop giving licenses willy-nilly. She asked for details around the ages and races of the men and women involved in the rape and femicide.
Ms Abrahams thanked Dr Harrison and his collaborators for the presentation. She asked if he discussed the contents of the presentation with major players in the alcohol industry, and what their input or comments were. She asked if there was any resistance, and if this presentation was presented to the Western Cape government.
She asked if any of the 16 countries mentioned in the presentation are developing countries with similar socio-economic problems, or if the countries are first world countries. She asked if these strategies are implemented soon, if the research made available will be able to predict a timeline for seeing positive results.
She also asked how the increase in alcohol price will affect users of a lower class, who then will not be able to afford alcohol. She said the Covid-19 crisis should have presented as a deterrent for people to buy alcohol, but during lockdown people still bought the higher prices cigarettes and alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease and it is not just a one-sided thing.
Mr Stock welcomed the presentation and said it is a straightforward presentation with thorough research, and should not be scrutinised but should be appreciated.
The Minister thanked the Committee for inviting Dr Harrison to present. She thanked Dr Harrison for indicating the role DSD must play and agreed the state in which the country finds itself is awful, and something must be done. The DSD must look for allies when it comes to fighting this, and look at the historical background. The state of community, and men gloating about how much they drink - the Department needs to step up and reverse this culture of binge drinking.
The Chairperson said the Committee must dig deeper in this matter and may call upon Dr Harrison to present further on this matter. He said alcohol consumption has a cost to humanity and the Committee accepts the petition made.
Dr Harrison said he is available to help in any way. There are many people who are ready and able to convene to work on viable solutions. Scotland introduced the minimum unit price in 2018 and by 2020 it showed a five percent reduction in heavy drinking, so it can be done.
The Western Cape government is involved in taking the lead, but it is crucial for national government to take the lead and more parties to get involved. The liquor industry was not approached yet because it is crucial for government and academics and researchers, to first create a clear strategy before engaging with the sector. Continuous price increase is not feasible, but prices can be increased to a balanced level where there is no increased risk. Lastly, he said he will be delighted to work with the Department and the Committee in this fight.
The Chairperson said the Committee can investigate having a workshop, inviting everyone to provide input into this matter and to come up with good solutions.
The Chairperson said the Committee is strapped for time, so the Committee will reply in writing to the Covid-19 update.
Update on covid-19 impact on DSD sector
The Department updated the Committee on the impact Covid-19 had on the DSD sector. The country is currently on 0, and the DSD is currently working on reducing restrictions in several areas.
The CEO of SASSA updated the Committee on business continuity, the loss of working hours, as well as the impact of its offices. There were several fatalities and there is panic in the workplace. The recoveries are high. This is comforting, and aids in helping employees stay calm.
The NDA updated the Committee on the volunteers programme and are trying to find ways to increase the number of volunteers . CARA Funding (support for the CSO’s in the GBV sector) has paid out R17 million and 131 CSO’s were paid. The money for office space was redirected. The NDA are also making use of the hybrid model, where some employees work from home and some from offices. The relevant protocols are still in place when handling postive infection cases. Workers over the ages of 60 and who have comorbidities continue to work from home.
The meeting was adjourned.
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