Call to strengthen GBVF fight

Monday, October 31, 2022

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has reiterated her call to all spheres of government, civil society and communities to work together to accelerate and amplify efforts to end the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).

“Until [there is] fundamental improvement in the violence in our communities, there will always be a need for us to come together across sectors of society to strengthen collaboration,” Nkoana-Mashabane said on Monday.

The Minister was speaking at a media briefing where the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on gender-based violence and femicide. The IMC of which the Minister is the chairperson, outlined progress made by government in implementing the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBVF.

This briefing comes on the eve of the Second Presidential GBVF Summit, which will take place at Gallagher Estate, Midrand on 01-02 November 2022. 

The Second Presidential Summit will serve as a platform to collectively take stock of progress made to date and affirm government political commitment to decisively end the GBVF pandemic.

Nkoana-Mashabane noted that a lot has happened since the first Presidential Summit in 2018 and they have witnessed the strength of promoting collaboration across government departments and sectors to drive developments aimed at responding to GBVF.

These include amongst others, the signing of the GBVF Declaration in 2019; the adoption of the NSP on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in 2020; the establishment of the #EndGBVF Collective in 2020; and the launch of the Private Sector led GBVF Response Fund 1 in 2021.

The country has also witness the signing of three gender-based violence bills into legislation in 2022 and the recent publishing of the National Council on Gender Based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF).

Government has made great strides to gazette the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Bill, which was officially shared for public comment on 30 September 2022.

“The drafting of this bill was led by the IMC in consultation with multiple stakeholders in line with the Development of Public Policy and Subordinate Legislation guidelines. The Council will be responsible for driving forward a multi-sectoral, coherent strategic policy and programming framework to ensure a coordinated and resourced national response to the crisis of GBVF in South Africa.

“At the moment, the formation of the END GBVF Collective has been instrumental in coordinating the implementation of the NSP across sectors of society. The Collective is a volunteerism based collective of government, civil society, development partners and business individuals who seek to accelerate the implementation of the NSP,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Capacity building

In addition, the Minister said the Department of Health has been instrumental in providing capacity building on GBVF for health providers, and has conducted over 47 training sessions in all spheres of government including national, provincial and municipal level.

“The department is developing a syllabus for training of community health workers (CHWs), to enable them to respond to GBV matters. Furthermore, obstetric violence and secondary victimisation, particularly against young women seeking abortions by health care professionals continues to be addressed through training.

“The Department of Correctional Services is providing rehabilitation programmes including the Victim-Offender Mediation (VOM) and Victim-Offender Dialogues (VODs). These victim-centred, survivor-focused, accessible, unbiased and quality services are available across all respective levels of the criminal justice, health, education and social support systems,” she said.

Strengthening capacity within the criminal justice system

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, said the department is working very hard to strengthen capacity within the criminal justice system to address impunity, respond effectively to femicide, and facilitate justice for GBVF survivors

Cele said this has been done by resourcing infrastructure and human capacity to facilitate effective service delivery in the detective, forensic investigation, and prosecution at Family Violence and Child Protection FCS Units.

As a way to reinforce capacity in the detective, forensic investigation, and prosecution at FCS units, he said the South African Police Service (SAPS) has appointed Interns and contract-employees.

He added that the SAPS is exploring options to enable the absorption of this pool into permanent positions on expiry of their contracts.

Reducing DNA backlog

Meanwhile, Cele said the department is working around the clock to reduce the DNA backlog, with a 241 000 backlog experienced during the first quarter of 2021/2022, being reduced to 71 000 since April 2022.

He said the filling of 34 vacancies for forensic analysts is underway and at an advanced stage to capacitate the Eastern Cape with 28 analysts, and six for the Western Cape.

In terms of training and development, the Minister said 22 forensic analysts from the Eastern Cape Biology Laboratory are undergoing training in DNA analysis.

“Laboratory equipment has been procured to optimise functioning at the Forensic Science Laboratories. The Western Cape and Gauteng FS Laboratories have been equipped with additional thermos-shakers, centrifuges, crime index lanes, and genetic analysers,” Cele said. –