President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to observe a national week of mourning for victims felled by Covid-19, gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide.
Addressing the nation for the first time since the country went into lockdown level 1 in September, Ramaphosa this week announced that flags would fly at half mast every day from November 25 to 29 in honour of those who have lost their lives in what he calls the country’s twin pandemics.
When the country went into lockdown on March 27, and citizens were instructed to stay indoors to flatten the curve and control the rate of infections, a surge in cases of GBV was observed.
This necessitated the participation of the Solidarity Fund – which was created in response to the deepening humanitarian crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic – to enable organisations that were already working to prevent GBV to reach more people.
The first in the series of interventions by the fund was the disbursement of R17 million during the hardest phase of the national lockdown.
R17m -The amount of money disbursed to existing gender-based violence organisations in the first gender-based violence intervention
R75m - The amount of money that will be disbursed in this gender-based violence intervention
360 - the number of community-based organisations the fund hopes to disburse funds to
3 860 - The number of gender-based violence -related calls to the gender-based violence command centre between March 27 and September 21. This is compared with 393 calls received between January 1 and March 26
The intervention intended to support organisations with an established GBV footprint, among them the National Shelter Movement of SA, the National Gender-Based Violence Command Centre and the Thuthuzela Care Centres, which fall under the National Prosecuting Authority.
The second GBV intervention – a call for funding applications is currently open – is targeting all community-based organisations that work at a grassroots level to support survivors of GBV.
Wendy Tlou, the executive head of the Humanitarian and Behaviour Change pillars at the Solidarity Fund, says: “The aim of this intervention is to offer much-needed financial support to organisations providing GBV-related services. This will enable them to continue operating and/or improve their service offering, thereby ensuring the continued availability of critical services that are impactful in preventing abuse, providing support and ensuring access to justice against perpetrators of abuse.
“It will further aid in the retention of skills and continued employment of predominantly female staff in organisations at risk of closure.”
For the organisations that have already benefited from the rigorous selection process, the much-welcomed interventions have assisted their delivery of services to victims of GBV, among which was trauma counselling training for 40 social workers at the National GBV Command Centre, as well as organising and delivering personal protective equipment to the Thuthuzela Care Centres so that the influx of people into the centres wouldn’t contribute to the spread of Covid-19.
Tumisho from the Tembisa Thuthuzela Care Centre, one of the facilities that received support from the fund, says: “We are extremely grateful as we are still faced with this pandemic and we need to comply with the regulations put in place. The delivery will ease safety concerns for our staff, and this will enable us to serve the community to the best of our abilities.”
South Africans have been urged to wear black during the national week of mourning.