Victims of abuse can turn to the GBV Command Centre during lockdown

Illustration.
Illustration.
David Prado

Vulnerable women and children who are at risk of abuse can turn to the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre for help during the 21-day national lockdown.

"We have increased our units that deal with women and children abuse," Police Minister Bheki Cele said at a briefing on Wednesday.

"[Phone] 0800 150 150, those who are feeling they are abused, especially women and children. The police will respond."

Cele joined members of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster together with the Governance, State Capacity and Institutional Development Cluster to brief the media on the details of government interventions in the security sector after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown on Monday to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

As of 25 March, South Africa has 709 confirmed coronavirus cases.

READ: Coronavirus national lockdown 101: What you need to know

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said the command centre would be assisting through Skype via "HELPMEGBV", a toll-free line (0800 428 428) and a call-back service victims could use by dialling *120*7867#.

Shelters

"We will be increasing the number of social service professionals to ensure that the above are in order," Zulu said. "All relevant shelters and supporting services will be operational 24 hours per day." 

The lockdown will come into effect on Thursday at midnight until 16 April.

A civil society movement in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide, The Total Shutdown, expressed concern, saying the "president's silence on emergency safety and security provisions for women and children was too loud".

"This lockdown, while necessary, affects the already vulnerable victims of gender-based violence and femicide who will be locked down with abusers and perpetrators of sexual violence," spokesperson Lesley Ncube told News24 on Wednesday.

As a result, the movement will be hosting a webinar to discuss the #ForgottenReality during Covid-19 in South Africa on Friday.

"Our discussion will centre on issues pertaining to gender-based violence and femicide, health and safety as well as the economic well-being of the #ForgottenReality and the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on people living in South Africa, specifically women, children and people in vulnerable communities and circumstances," Ncube said.

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