ATC201127: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation on Consideration of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) Investigative Report on the State of Shelters in South Africa, 2018/2019, Dated: 10 November 2020

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation




The Portfolio Committee On Human Settlements, Water And Sanitation (Hereinafter Referred To As The Committee), Having Considered The Commission For Gender Equality’s (CGE) Report On The State Of Shelters In South Africa On 31 July 2020, Reports As Follows:


  1. Background

South Africa Is Known To Have One Of The Highest Rates Of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) In The World. A 2014 Report By The Accounting Firm KPMG,An Investigative Report On The State Of Shelters In South Africa, 2019, Provided A Conservative Estimate Of The Economic Cost To Society As A Result Of GBV And Criticized South Africa’s Reactive Response To The Problem. GBV Costs Were Estimated To Be Between R28.4 Billion And R42.4 Billion (Between 0.9% And 1.3 % Of GDP) Annually.


Report On The State Of Shelter In South Africa In 2018/19. As Part Of The Background, She Said The Commission Embarked On An Investigative Report On The State Of Shelter In South Africa. The Commission Observed That There Are Deep-Rooted Systemic Challenges That Need To Be Addressed At The Highest Level Of Institutions That Are Expected To Offer Services To Survivors Of Violence.The Investigative Report 2018/2019 Recommended To Call Public Investigative Hearing Within The 2019/2020 Financial Year Heads Of The Nine Provincial Department Of Social Developments, The Director General Of The Department Of Social Development, And The Director General Of The Department Of Human Settlements. These Were Required To Fully Account Before The Commission And Respond To Questions Regarding How Shelter Are Allocated Resources And Any Other Aspects Regarding The Functioning And Co-Ordination Of Shelter, Including The Need For Transitional Housing.


Statistics South Africa (Stassa) Has Detailed The Trends Emerging From Data Indicating The Brutality Of Violence Against Women And Children. It Also Provided Insights Into South Africans’ Perceptions And Beliefs Around GBV. In 2015/2016, The Total Number Of Applications For Protection Orders, As Provided For By The Domestic Violence Act, Was Recorded As 275 536 Applications. South Africa Is A Member State To The Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In Relation To Recommendations To State Parties, The Following Was Stated:


 “States Parties Should Ensure That Laws Against Family Violence And Abuse, Rape, Sexual Assault And Other Gender-Based Violence Give Adequate Protection To All Women And Respect Their Integrity And Dignity. Appropriate Protective And Support Services Should Be Provided For Victims. Gender-Sensitive Training Of Judicial And Law Enforcement Officers And Other Public Officials Are Essential For The Effective Implementation Of The Convention”.

Section 26 Of The Constitution Enshrines The Right To Adequate Housing. This Is Important In The Context Of Shelters, As Many Women Are Displaced And Need Alternative Accommodation For Safety Reasons, Often In The Form Of Shelters. In This Respect, The Right To Adequate Housing Places An Obligation On The State To Take Reasonable Legislative And Other Measures, Within Its Available Resources, To Ensure The Progressive Realisation Of This Right.


1.2 Mandate Of Committee

Section 55(2) Of The Constitution Of The Republic Of South Africa Stipulates That “The National Assembly (NA) Must Provide For Mechanisms (A) To Ensure That All Executive Organs Of State In The National Sphere Of Government Are Accountable To It; And (B) To Maintain Oversight Of (I) National Executive Authority, Including The Implementation Of The Legislation; And (Ii) Any Organ Of State”.  Rule 227 Of The Rules Of The National Assembly (9th Edition) Provides For Mechanisms Contemplated In Section 55(2) Of The Constitution.

The Committee Has An Oversight Role Over The Department Of Human Settlements, Water And Sanitation Institutions To Monitor Progress Towards The Achievement Of The Provision Of Shelter In South Africa, Including The Protection Of Women And Children.


1.3. Mandate Of The Commission For Gender Equality (CGE)

The CGE Is An Independent Statutory Body Established In Terms Of Chapter 9 Of The Constitution Of The Republic Of South Africa, 1996. The Commission’s Mandate Is To Promote Respect For, And The Protection, Development And Attainment Of Gender Equality. To This End, The Commission For Gender Equality Act (No. 39 Of 1996), As Amended, Gives The Commission The Power To Monitor And Evaluate Policies And Practices Of Organs Of State At Any Level; Statutory Bodies And Functionaries; Public Bodies And Authorities And Private Businesses, Enterprises; Research And Make Any Recommendations To Parliament.


1.4. Purpose Of The Report

The Purpose Of This Report Is To Account In Accordance With Rule 166 Of The National Assembly (NA) For The Work Done By The Committee In Considering The CGE Report On The State Of Shelters In South Africa In 2018 As Referred By The Speaker Of The National Assembly To The Committee In Terms Of Rule 338 For Consideration And Reporting In Terms Of Rules 339 And 340 Respectively.


2. Summary Of The Presentation On State Of Shelters In South Africa In 2018

The Mandate Of The CGE As Per Section 187 Of The Constitution And The CGE Act, 1996 (Act No. 39 Of 1996). The Commission Undertook A Systemic Investigation Into The State Of Shelters In South Africa. This Was Initiated Because Of The Complaints Received And The Grossly Inadequate And Misaligned Funding Of Shelters.


The Commission Held An Investigative Hearing From The 2nd-6th December 2019 And The Following Institutions: The Department Of Public Works And Infrastructure; The South African Police Service; Department Of Health; Department Of Human Settlements; Department Of Safety Gauteng; National Treasury; Department Of Labour; Department Of Women, Youth And Persons With Disabilities; National Departments Of Social Development And 9 Provincial Departments Of Social Development.


During The Financial Year 2020/2021, The Commission Will Be Conducting A Follow-Up Process Where All Departments Including DHS Will Be Required To Provide Progress Report Of Addressing Issues Raised By The Commission. To This End, The Commission Has Already Dispatched A Correspondence To DHS And Anticipates A Response By The 13th August 2020. The Commission Will Analyse The Anticipated Responses And Provide Further Recommendations Thereafter.


Regarding The Department Of Human Settlements (DHS), The Commission Observed That:

  • The DHS Has Over The Years Received Grants From National Treasury And Such Grants Have Been Apportioned To Provincial DHS.
  • The Role Of The Provincial Department, Over And Above The Specifics Stated In The Housing Act, Has Been To Implement Programmes That Are Stipulated In The National Housing Code.
  • The DHS Submitted That It Has The Latest Information On A National Policy Development Concerning A Special Housing Needs Programme That Would Be Complementary To The National Housing Code. Accordingly, This Programme Aims To Cater For The Construction Of Shelters For People With Special Housing Needs.
  • In Terms Of Funding, DHS Confirmed That It Is Not Receiving Financial Assistance From The Government. It Relies On Donations And Private Sector Credit.
  • The DHS Submitted That It Is In The Process Of Sending Letters To Provinces To Highlight Which Projects Provided Shelter To The Victims Of Gender Base-Violence (GBV). The Commission Is Yet To Receive A Formal Confirmation That This Has Been Done.
  • Although The Housing Act Requires All Three Spheres Of Government To Promote The Housing Needs Of Marginalised Groups Disadvantaged By Unfair Discrimination, Failure To Provide Housing Needs To Pwds Amounts To Unfair Discrimination:
    • DHS Has Not Proactively Conceptualised Its Role As Providing Shelter For Victims Of Abuse And Has Thus Discriminated Against Them.
    • DHS Has Not Finalised Its Special Needs Housing Policy.
  • The Department Admitted That There Is A Disjuncture Between Its Conception Of A Shelter And The Issue Of Shelters That The Commission Is Focusing On.  To This End, The Department Noted Concerns Regarding The Financing Structure For Emergency And Special Needs Housing. 


In View Of The Findings, The Commission Recommended The Following:

  • The Department To Finalise Its Special Needs Housing Policy By June 2020, Including The Guidelines For The Implementation. 
  • The Department Should Consider Liaising With The National Shelter Movement And The CGE On Issues Of Shelter. 
  • The Department To Submit Its Draft Special Needs Housing Policy To The Commission. 


3. Response By The National Department Of Human Settlements

The Department Confirmed That There Had Been Consultations Between The Parties, And The Department Had Undertaken The Necessary Processes. After The Report Was Provided, It Was Circulated To All The Provinces, Metros And Municipalities. This Also Included The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) And The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) To Make Comment.


The Department Had Hosted A Workshop On 15 January To Contextualise The Issues And To Find Resolutions. However, There Wasno Representative From The CGE. The Delegates Of The National Shelter Movement Had Been Invited To The Workshop. The Department Was Currently Finalising The Comments, And A Virtual Meeting Would Be Undertaken On The Policy By August. This Would Include The Outcome Of The Set Details Of The Implementation Guides. This Would Allow For The Department To Take The Policy For Approval At The Ministers And Members Of Executive Council (MINMEC) And The National Treasury. It Would Also Allow For Funding To Be Allocated To Either The Provinces And The Municipalities, Through Either The Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) Or The Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG), For The Provision Of Shelters.


The Department Wasin Consultation With The Department Of Social Development (DSD), As The Adjusted Budget Had Set Aside Money For The Provision Of Shelters, Particularly For Victims Of GBV.The Department Supported The Recommendations From The CGE, And Was Committed To Address Each Of The Issues Raised.


One Of The Issues That The Department Would Raise, As Part Of The Policy, Was The Responsibility Of The Social Housing Regulatory Authority In Terms Of Its Social Housing Policy To Undertake That Process. Another Aspect Was The Allocation Of Funding To Provinces And Municipalities, Together With The Special Grant That Was Approved By Cabinet And Parliament. The Projects Could Then Begin In Collaboration With The Departments Of Health (DOH) And The DSD.


4. Observations And Recommendations Of The Committee

The Report Of The Commission Was Welcomed, Its Work As A Chapter 9 Institution Was Commended. All Recommendations By The Commission Were Welcomed. The Commission Was Doing A Good Job Provided That It Had A Limited Budget. The Commission Assists The Committee To Monitor The Work Of The Department And Other Stakeholders. Members Of The Portfolio Committee, Having Considered And Deliberated On The Report On State Of Shelters In South Africa 2018, Made The Following Observations:


  1. That There Could Be Unintended Policy Consequences If Shelter Intervention Were Not Properly Understood. It Was Important That Shelters Were Not Viewed As Permanent Solution For The Lack Of Housing. Members Indicated That GBV Survivors Need Temporary Shelter As Oppose To Permanent Housing Solution.



Members Deemed It Important That Shelter Be Defined Because GBV Survivors Might Be Provided Permanent Housing While They Need Temporary Or Transitional Housing. Integrate Housing Solutions For GBV Survivors Into Other Housing Projects In Order To Prevent Victimisation And Stigma. Develop A Comprehensive Policy And Plan To Deal With Transitional Housing For Domestic Violence Survivors Who Are Ready To Leave Shelters But Cannot Return To Their Homes. This Should Also Have A Dedicated Budget And Plan To Move Victims Out Of Shelters. Present The Finalised Special Need Housing Policy To Committee After June 2021.


  1. That Issue Of GBV Is A Cross-Cutting And Multifaceted Matter That Requires The Collaboration From Several Departments.



There Is A Need For Close Policy Collaboration Between Institutional Gender Offices, The CGE And Municipalities, The Department Of Social Development And Department Of Human Settlements. Stakeholders Should Work Closely To Identify Victims Of GBV Who Need Housing. The Department Should Collaborate And Co-Ordinate With Municipalities, Chapter 9 Institutions, The Department Of COGTA And The DSD To Identify Victims Who Needed Houses, Through The Community Development Workers (Cdws), Who Fell Under COGTA. The Department And CGE Must Comment On The Victims Support Bill, The Domestic Violence Act Of 1998, And The Strategic Plan Of Presidency To Ensure Alignment With Their Work. This Important Because Stakeholders Can Develop A Common Approach To Policies.


  1. In General, Members Raised Theissue Of Security In Shelters, This Puts Victims In Extra Danger.



Ensure The Security Of The Victims Of Gender Based Violence. Furnish The Committee With A Record Of The List Of Shelters That Had Been Provided For Victims Of GBV. The List Of Shelters Should Be Submitted To The Committee By June 2021.


Report To Be Considered.






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