GBVF NSP: Department report-back on Pillar 2

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

31 March 2022
Chairperson: Ms K Bilankulu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


National Strategic Plan on GBV and Femicide

02 Sep 2021

NSPGBVF: Report-back from lead departments on implementation of Pillar 1 (Accountability, Coordination and Leadership); Introductory meeting with Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund

In a virtual meeting, the Multiparty Women’s Caucus was briefed by various departments and agencies on progress made with the implementation of Pillar Two of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide Plan (Prevention, Rebuilding and Social Cohesion). Departments and agencies which presented were:

- The Department of Basic Education
- The Department of Higher Education and Training
- The South African Police Services
- The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
- The Department of Health
- The Department of Transport
- The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture
- Government Communication and Information System
- Brand South Africa

Members of the Caucus asked about the departments’ approaches to teenage pregnancies, rape, and sex crimes by and against children, and also asked about the Department of Higher Education and Training’s measures to address sex crimes on campuses. Members criticised the Department of Health for its handling of victims of forced sterilisation and other procedures, and also for its poor record of customer service. Members drew attention to omissions when it came to the deaf and disabled communities and the slow pace of prosecution of gender-based violence crimes. Members also noted the cases of secondary victimisation of victims by police officers in Kwazulu-Natal.

The Committee called on the departments to set measurable targets and closely monitor the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and the objectification of women in the media.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said a special Cabinet meeting was being held, which meant Ministers of the departments present would not be at the meeting. She said Members of the Caucus should remember to look out for other women. There were still women who were suffering and patriarchy was still the order of the day. As leaders, Members should stand together. She accepted apologies from several Ministers and Members of Parliament.

Ms M Siwisa (EFF) objected to the absence of the Ministers. She said without the Ministers being present to answer questions it would not be possible for the Caucus to do justice to the briefings. In future, similar meetings should be postponed if Ministers were not going to attend.

The Chairperson appreciated the point but noted the Cabinet meeting was a special case because it was an unplanned meeting. She said several Deputy Ministers were in attendance.

Department of Basic Education (DBE) presentation
Dr Patricia Watson, Chief Director: Social Inclusion and Partnerships, DBE, outlined the policy and strategic framework supporting the DBE’s implementation of Pillar Two of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide (NSPGBVF): Prevention, Rebuilding and Social Cohesion. The Department was in the process of developing policies on unfair discrimination and the social inclusion of learners with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). The Department used five levers to implement Pillar Two interventions: curriculum and assessment, learner and teaching materials, teacher training and development, co-curricular and enrichment programmes and care and support services, and advocacy and information.

See presentation for further details

Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) presentation
Ms Trudi van Wyk, Chief Director: Social Inclusion, Equity, Access and Quality, DHET, said Higher Health was the implementation arm for DHET’s comprehensive programme to promote the health and well-being of students at universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges. Gender-based violence (GBV) was one of its seven focus areas. GBV was a complex issue and the majority of incidents did not happen on the property of higher education institutions. She outlined the Department’s Policy and Strategic Framework, and the implementation of Pillar Two interventions at TVET colleges, Community Education and Training (CET) colleges and universities, and by Higher Health and other entities.

See presentation for further details

South African Police Service (SAPS) presentation
Lieutenant General Michael Motlhala, Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing and Operations, SAPS, said the prevention of GBV and sexual offences was one of SAPS’s six focus areas. He outlined SAPS’s integrated sexual offences and GBV Action Plan and progress made on preventative initiatives, which included a 365 Days Campaign, a Hotspot Intervention Programme, and community and school-based engagements. Some of the challenges SAPS was facing included issues such as the root causes of GBV and Femicide (GBVF) as patriarchal norms which required ongoing interventions by social institutions such as families, cultural formations, religious authorities, and the media.

See presentation for further details

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) presentation
Advocate Praise Kambula, Chief Director: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups, DoJ&CD, provided an outline of the Department’s three key Pillar Two interventions:

- to restore human dignity, build caring and safe communities which are responsive to individual and collective trauma, led by DoJ&CD. The Department made progress towards the establishment of a rapid response mechanism, which responded to incidents of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, and a virtual repository of data on these incidents.
- to harness approaches to prevention that facilitate integration and deepen impact. This is presently led by DoJ&CD and is expected to be co-led with the National Council on GBVF. The Department was developing strategy, policy on SOGIESC matters, and legislation on hate crimes and hate speech.
- to strengthen the delivery capacity of South Africa to roll out effective prevention programmes. It is the responsibility of every government stakeholder as part of the 365 Days Campaign to end GBV. The Department had undertaken and planned a large number of media engagements.

Remaining challenges included stakeholder coordination and reporting, poor data management, and COVID-19 restrictions. The Department was very concerned about the 22% increase in the number of sex crimes perpetrated by children, which occurred during the first national lockdown in 2020.

See presentation for further details

Department of Health (DoH) presentation
Dr Zukiswa Pinini, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Maternal and Child Health, DoH, outlined the Department’s key Pillar Two interventions:

- Capacity building on GBV for health providers: training on GBV had been conducted in several provinces.
- Harness approaches to prevention that facilitate and deepen impact: GBVF prevention had been integrated into the Department’s human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRH&R). Substance abuse interventions and community interventions which promote social connectedness and healing had been facilitated.

Dr Pinini also reported on the results of a recently-concluded study by the South African Medical Research Council which compared figures for 1999, 2009, and 2017, and had found that while femicide remained a huge problem there were continued reductions, especially in intimate-partner femicide.

See presentation for further details

Department of Transport (DoT) presentation
Ms Khibi Manana, Acting DDG: Public Transport, DoT, said the Department’s Pillar Two interventions were focused on taxis and rail:

- Taxis: the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) had set up a Women’s Desk which developed a strategy on GBV and empowerment. SANTACO had signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and Sonke Gender Justice to formalise its collaboration. It also signed with TransAid to run a pilot programme on GBV in the Western Cape taxi industry. SANTACO had undertaken campaigns to educate drivers on GBV and empower women in the industry in several provinces.

- Rail: the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) did not have a specific strategy to target GBV but was deploying 5000 additional security staff across the rail network. It had identified potential hotspots.

See presentation for further details

Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) presentation
Ms Sizakele Shongwe, Chief Director: Social Cohesion, DSAC, outlined the progress made on Pillar Two through four departmental campaigns:

- The Golekane ‘It Is Enough’ Campaign, which focused on GBVF conversations among men;
- The Baqhawafazi Campaign, which focused on mentoring women;
- The Silapha Campaign, which focused on the well-being of artists;
- The Orange Day Campaign, which aimed to raise awareness of violence against women and girls by promoting the wearing of orange coloured clothing on the 25th of every month;
- 16 Days of Activism against GBV.

Ms Shongwe provided details of the deliverables for these campaigns and other initiatives, discussed the Department’s policy work and partnerships with other governmental and non-governmental stakeholders and looked at ongoing challenges, which included growing gender-based inequality, persistent gender stereotypes and objectification of women in the media, and backlash against progress toward gender equality.

See presentation for further details

Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) presentation
Mr Michael Currin, DDG: Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management, GCIS, said that GBVF was one of four top-level campaigns being driven by GCIS, alongside jobs, youth opportunities, and the Economic Recovery Plan. He discussed government-wide Pillar Two interventions being supported by GCIS and interventions being led by GCIS:

- Government-wide interventions: these included a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster dialogue on GBVF and commercial media campaigns such as radio, television, and print programming.
- GCIS-led interventions: the ‘Don’t Look Away: Act Against Abuse’ campaign had been particularly successful. GCIS had also held webinars, organised community dialogues and marches, continued to develop content related to GBVF such as key messages and talking points for wider use, and had published widely on the web and in traditional and social media.

Mr Currin said GCIS was currently implementing activities through its operational budget and various partnerships, but it still lacked sufficient funds to undertake a mass behavioural change campaign.

See presentation for further details

Brand South Africa (BSA) presentation
Ms Thoko Modise, Acting Chief Marketing Officer, BSA, said BSA had been directed to focus on international interventions and its resources had been rebalanced to respond to this directive. She outlined some its BSA’s interventions, which included:

- The Play Your Part (PYP) programme promotes active citizenship, through PYP ambassadors and online videos;

- A GBV virtual conference held in partnership with Multichoice, which reached audiences in 40 countries; and

- The ‘home is not always where the heart is’ Campaign to raise awareness about and encourage action in response to the increase in GBV during COVID-19.

Ms Modise said according to local surveys South Africans considered GBVF to be a serious reputational concern for the country. She also said BSA would be able to do much more with more funding.

See presentation for further details

Ms N Chirwa (EFF) said DBE was working with a conception of teen pregnancy which was too narrow. It should take into account many teen pregnancies were also raped. Language was important, and the DBE was at risk of obscuring this aspect of the problem. Victims of rape should not be portrayed as willing participants in underage sexual activities.

She asked why DBE had not implemented the recommendations of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) report on teen pregnancy, and how many criminal cases related to teen pregnancy DBE had facilitated. At the very least, these children should be assisted to obtain justice. She asked if DBE tried to decipher the environmental factors around children who came to school pregnant and if it had relationships with DoH and SAPS when it came to pursuing these cases.

She asked if DHET knew what the average number of sex crimes committed per university or college was, and what it was doing to resolve the lack of capacity to prosecute sexual crimes; and also asked if sexual crimes committed on campuses were automatically linked to the criminal justice system. She wanted to know which innovations there were to reduce the number of these crimes.

She said it was disingenuous of DHET not to take responsibility for sexual crimes which took place in residencies that the institution itself accredited. She criticised DoH for not supporting the victims of forced sterilisation, who suffered from various negative side effects. DoH had also not implemented the recommendations of the CGE report after two years and was dragging its feet on the problems caused by transvaginal mesh surgeries, which had its approval withdrawn in the USA.

She asked if the Department knew about the case of a Ms Ncube, who was suffering from health problems because of the surgery. There were three provinces that did not have any pregnancy termination facilities. She asked if this would be resolved.

Ms J Mananiso (ANC) asked all the departments who presented to provide written plans of action to address the challenges they identified. The departments should also recognise GBVF as a broad societal issue and departments should consider other vulnerable groups too, not only women.
She recommended DBE use teenage mothers as ambassadors to speak to teenagers about issues such as pregnancy prevention because services at clinics were often not youth-friendly.

She asked if DoJ&CD’s challenges around data management were because of human resources or technological limitations and if there was a strategy to address this challenge.

She asked for clarity on the content of training modules that DoH had provided, and if DoH had a plan to improve its poor record of customer service. It was important for the women on SANTACO’s Women’s Desk to be trained on the entire National Strategic Plan, not only Pillar Two. It strengthened its capacity at local level.

She asked how many GBV cases had been reported to PRASA.

DSAC should ensure there was consistency between its presentations and the documents it submitted. Ms Shongwe had spoken extensively about albinism but this wasn’t mentioned in the document. GCIS needed to work on its visibility, as its work was not visible on the ground, and BSA should provide information on the demographics of its GBVF ambassadors. It should incorporate the district development model into its programmes.

Ms J Tshabalala (ANC) said the Caucus had received an overwhelming amount of information from the departments, and perhaps fewer briefings should be held per meeting in future, so the Caucus could do justice to all.

Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) asked if DBE’s training programmes included schools for people with disabilities, for example, there were over 200 deaf teacher assistants, and she wanted to know if these teacher assistants also receive training on GBVF issues. She drew attention to reports of schoolchildren abusing hostel parents and asked what DBE was doing to address this problem. She also asked what it was doing to address the problem of teachers of deaf children who did not know sign language. She appealed to all departments to invite the disabled and deaf communities to its events.

In Cape Town, many homeless families were living very close to railway lines and asked PRASA to ensure the safety of rail corridors. She asked how DHET worked with higher education institutions with regard to rape and sexual abuse. Institutions tended not to report incidents to the police.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) asked DoJ&CD to look into the slow pace of prosecutions for GBVF-related crimes. At Pinetown for instance, it seemed there was no appetite to pursue these cases. Oversight could not be done on anything which could not be measured, and therefore the departments should set precise targets and these targets should also consider the economic empowerment of women. She called for an aggressive strategy to combat cable theft, which created dark streets and corners endangering vulnerable groups.

Ms F Masiko (ANC) also felt the amount of information presented had been overwhelming. The Caucus should ensure the portfolio committees associated with each of the departments were able to hold it to account on GBV issues.

She asked how often portfolio committees dealt with these issues. At universities and colleges, in particular, end-users were not even aware of GBV or sexual harassment policies and frameworks. Continuous training was necessary to ensure policies were implemented.

She said a woman in KwaHlabisa in Kwazulu-Natal, who was a victim of domestic violence, had been raped by police officers after she reported the incident. She insisted SAPS look into secondary victimisation. DSAC should closely monitor the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and the objectification of women in media because this fuelled GBV. She commended DSAC’s campaign promoting GBV conversations among men, and also commended SAPS’s provision of GBV written materials in Braille.

Dr Watson said DBE had a strong collaboration with DoH through the integrated schools' health programme, which gave expression to all the complementary activities which took place in schools. There was also a protocol with SAPS, according to which every school was linked to a particular police station, and the police station was represented on the School Safety Committee. The protocol also required SAPS to close taverns within a certain radius of a school.

DBE was very concerned about the rape of 10 to 14-year-old girls. These rapes were often perpetrated by people known to the child, and it was the legal responsibility of any person who knew about it to report it to the police. She appreciated the suggestion to establish ambassadors for teen pregnancy and undertook to see deaf teachers receive training on sexual education and sign language.

Dr Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, said DBE was collaborating effectively with DoH, SAPS, DoJ&CD, the Department of Communications, the Department of Social Development, and wider society on teen pregnancy and related problems such as bullying.

Ms van Wyk undertook to share statistics on sexual crimes on campuses with the Caucus. There were complexities however, as the Department was dealing with young adults and reporting was the prerogative of the victim. Although students were encouraged to report, there was a range of reasons a student might choose not to. There was definitely room for DHET to improve. Each campus was connected with a GBV office and training was taking place at these offices.

She acknowledged DHET accredited student accommodation but asked what happened behind closed doors as this was the concern. DHET said it would submit a plan of action to address its challenges. Subsequent to the release of the CGE report, DHET had ensured every campus had a student support services office, and Higher Health was doing advocacy and awareness programmes on campuses. The Department would look at strengthening men-to-men conversations as there was a wide range of factors contributing to GBV. She undertook to respond to remaining questions in writing.

Lieutenant-General Motlhala undertook to make a full written submission on the KwaHlabisa rape incident. SAPS had a zero-tolerance approach to secondary victimisation. Such cases were dealt with criminally and through internal disciplinary processes.

Advocate Kambula admitted the increases in statutory rape, child sexual offences and teen pregnancies in 2020/21 were serious problems. These increases during COVID-19 had confirmed sex crimes are perpetrated against children in domestic relationships. This was where the poison was. Efforts to curb these crimes should be diverted to the home environment and family values should be promoted. There had been a significant increase in case backlogs in the first year of the pandemic, but Pinetown had not featured in the Department’s statistics on areas with high case backlogs. She undertook to look into the problems at Pinetown. A national case backlog framework had recently been finalised, which gave priority to GBVF cases. The DNA processing backlog had had a disproportionate impact on these cases but progress was being achieved through the efforts of the Deputy Minister and the Minister of Police. She undertook to conduct a study across the criminal justice system to identify the causes of delays in finalising GBVF cases.

Dr Pinini asked Ms Chirwa to share the details of the medical condition of Ms Ncube. She undertook to respond to the issues around mesh surgeries, the lack of pregnancy termination in some provinces, and the content of training modules in writing. She assured the Caucus DoH endeavoured to provide quality health services according to Batho Pele principles, and if the implementation was lacking this should be looked into.

Ms Manana undertook to confirm the number of cases with PRASA and to send this information in writing. She noted the comments on economic empowerment of women and homeless families in rail reserves and said she would ask PRASA to respond in writing.

Ms Nocawe Mafu, Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, agreed it was important for the departments to set targets, and the portrayal of women in the media was a critical point worthy of its own presentation.

Mr Currin said GCIS fieldworkers were doing the best they could, even if these efforts were not always obvious on the ground. GCIS would look at resurrecting its information kiosks, which had fallen into a lull during COVID-19. Events in remote areas did not always receive mainstream media coverage, but social media might provide a solution.

Ms Modise undertook to respond on behalf of BSA in writing.

The meeting was adjourned.

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