Govt reprioritise R1.6bn for GBV, but rape kits remain a problem

2019-10-31 20:25
Protesters gathered to hand over a memorandum of grievances during a gender-based violence demonstration outside Parliament, following the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana on September 05, 2019 in Cape Town. (Gallo Images/Ziyaad Douglas)

Protesters gathered to hand over a memorandum of grievances during a gender-based violence demonstration outside Parliament, following the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana on September 05, 2019 in Cape Town. (Gallo Images/Ziyaad Douglas)

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Government departments managed to reprioritise R1.6bn to combat gender-based violence as opposed to the R1.1bn President Cyril Ramaphosa envisaged when he first announced an emergency response to the scourge, but the provision of rape evidence collection kits at police stations remains a problem.

In September, after a spate of high profile incidents of gender-based violence swept through the country, Ramaphosa addressed a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament.

During that sitting, he announced the government would reallocate R1.1bn in additional funding this financial year to dispel the "dark and heavy shadow" of gender-based violence that has been cast across the country.

Answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon, Ramaphosa commended government departments for reprioritising R1.6bn.

This means 200 social workers can be appointed to be deployed at care centres throughout the country to provide survivors of gender-based violence with targeted services, he said.

"This is a phenomenal achievement," he said.

Police Minister Bheki Cele earlier set a deadline of October 14 when all police stations were supposed to have sufficient rape evidence collection kits for adults and children.

When Ramaphosa answered questions in the National Council of Provinces on October 10, DA MP Cathy Labuschagne asked Ramaphosa that he undertake that this would indeed be the case.

"We are now on a drive to ensure all police stations will have its own rape kits," Ramaphosa said.

"I will monitor this myself," he said without committing to a date.

On Thursday, DA MP Siviwe Gwarube said this money means nothing if the police can't gather evidence.

She said Cele didn't meet the deadline he set for when each police station was supposed to have had the rape evidence collection kits for adults and children.

She said 76% of police stations didn't have adult kits, and 69% didn't have kits for children.

Ramaphosa said he was "really, really disturbed" to hear this and he was going to speak to the minister about this.

He said he wanted to know which stations did not have the kits. "I want to put the minister on the spot," he said.

While answering Gwarube, some DA MPs heckled Ramaphosa.

"This is something we must work together on. This is not a joke, this is not a matter to laugh about, to heckle about," Ramaphosa said.

IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe said the state trained 5 000 social workers who can't find jobs.

Ramaphosa said this "pains" him, and the state would look at employing more social workers across the country.

EFF MP Naledi Chirwa said Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said nothing of the R1.6bn the day before, when he presented his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

"It is clearly one of your empty promises," Chirwa said.

"How will this R1.6bn stop a girl child being raped?"

Ramaphosa pointed out that the R1.6bn is being reprioritised in the current budget, and therefore there was no need for Mboweni to mention it in his MTBPS.

He said a steering committee made up of women will watch how that money is spent "like hawks".  

Read more on:    saps  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  bheki cele  |  gender based violence  |  rape
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