We are fast approaching the end of the annual 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against women and child abuse for this year. A time of the year, where we normally reflect on gender-based violence ( GBV) and femicide. A time where we reach out to our vulnerable communities and speak out against abuse, and often end up making empty promises as to how we can or will fight for the prevention of further abuse. It is also at this time, where we find ourselves debating the annual report of the Department of Community Safety and reflecting on what the department did in this financial year to prevent and support victims who suffer abuse from perpetrators who should belong in jail.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed that the Department of Community Safety used the lockdown regulations as an excuse for not meeting or amending their targets as the lockdown also locked in many victims for ongoing periods in their homes with their abusers, holding them hostage at the hands of their abusers with nowhere to go.
The department stipulated in this report that the primary purpose is to undertake a proactive approach in ensuring the prevention of social crimes. This is coordinated through the Safety Promotion programme that provides professional and volunteer-based victim support services to victims of crime within Gauteng, with a special focus on victims of sexual and domestic violence and survivors of gender-based violence.
With a vision like this for the department, it is so much more important to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation and not to use the lockdown as an excuse to ensure that the job gets done and that our most vulnerable are safe and protected. Yet, if we look at this annual report and the targets set and achieved in this section relating to GBV, it is concerning to note that none was achieved.
It is also within these visible policing and safety awareness departments, where we find the highest percentage of vacancies not filled. Areas that require additional safety officers to ensure that the department can indeed achieve its targets and reach its goals in solving the social crimes of our communities.
The DA believes and fights for the protection of our basic human rights as enshrined in our constitution. This includes the basic human right of safety.
As this 16 Days of Activism campaign draws to a close, I ask the MEC, a woman, a mother, and a leader of this province to do some serious introspection and ask herself if she is protecting and showing the necessary care when it comes to the safety of her fellow sisters and children of this province. Is the MEC truly proud of the achievements of her department? I hope that she will answer those questions truthfully enough to take some serious actions in 2022, that we will not need to judge this department next year this time with the same criticism as we did today. Listen to the DA and prioritise the safety of our people, don’t just talk safety and awareness, walk the talk as well!