GBV activists go door-to-door in Orange Farm to encourage survivors to seek help

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MEC Faith Mazibuko.
MEC Faith Mazibuko.
Ntwaagae Seleka
  • An Orange Farm Gender-Based Violence brigade narrated how they searched for victims daily.
  • Some victims choose to protect their abusers from arrest. 
  • Others claimed that police had let them down and chose to live in silence under abuse.

As the country gears up for the annual 16 Days of Activism against women and child abuse, the scourge continues unabated.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko led a prayer session against the prevailing crime in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Among those in attendance was gender-based violence (GBV) activist Nombulelo Chulugi.

Chulugi and others walk door-to-door looking for victims of GBV and then referred them to authorities for assistance.

They had to convince victims hiding behind closed doors to seek help.

READ | 'A dark and brutal Women's Month': Govt condemns recent femicide cases

Their job, she said, was emotionally and mentally draining.

"GBV is one of the dangerous crimes that happens behind closed doors. Victims thereof are afraid to come forward and open cases. They are afraid of their abusers. They feel they will be belittled and turned away by police officers," Chulugi said.

She added that some victims feared their partners and continued to live with them even if they were being assaulted.

Chulugi added that another contributing factor that prevented many victims from coming forward was the financial attachment to their abusers.

"Many victims feel that because their abusers are looking after them, they can easily forgive their abusers. They believe that their abusers would one day change and become better partners," said Chulugi.

READ | Ramaphosa calls on men to do more to prevent gender-based violence, following staggering rape stats

Earlier this year, Chulugi went to a house where an adult neighbour had allegedly assaulted a minor child.

"The victim's mother took her child to the police, where she was told that her child was not injured. They returned home, and the same perpetrator attacked them in their house with a knife. She stabbed both the mother and her child.

"The two victims (mother and child) have since relocated from Orange Farm, where they were residing. They are now staying somewhere at an informal settlement. The mother has lost hope in the police and believed that running away was the only solution to her predicament," Chulugi said.

Another harrowing case she dealt with this year was that of a 32-year-old woman raped by her elder brother when she was in Grade 3.

Chulugi said:

What saddens the matter is that the brother has been released out on parole. He is living together with the victim in their parental home. The victim is now an unemployed mother surviving on her child support grant. Her brother demands her grant. He is always threatening to do what he did to her when she was young. The victim has nowhere to run to and has lost hope in the police. She is forced to surrender her child support grant money to her brother.

She said that she had referred the victim to the police. Chulugi said assault cases were common in Orange Farm.

She once attempted to assist a woman living with her boyfriend.

"I found the woman with bruises on her face. She claimed that her live-in-lover had assaulted her, but she was afraid to open a case against him. I tried convincing her to come forward. She refused, and her boyfriend arrived and chased me out of their home.

"We have also established that many cases are perpetrated by boyfriends who take advantage of young women because they provide money and shelter for them," Chulugi said.   

READ | Anger management is crucial to solving gender-based violence, says social worker

Mission Society Care leader Thabile Mnisi-Msibi said GBV was broad, as it happened at home, schools and churches.

Mnisi-Msibi runs an organisation that offered shelter and counselling to victims of GBV.

"We work with the Department of Community Safety and various police stations. We offer hope to victims. GBV in Orange Farm is rife and it seems what we are trying to do is not good enough.

"We need a bigger place in Orange Farm where we can house victims," Mnisi-Msibi said. Mnisi-Msibi encouraged women and children to come forward and approach them for help.

According to Mazibuko, Orange Farm police station was turning the tide.

"It used to be among the top five stations contributing to GBV in Gauteng. With the recent statistics, it (Orange Farm) doesn't even feature in the top 30 national police stations. According to our provincial statistics, it is in the top 15.

"Temba police station remains number one. There are some improvements in many police stations in Gauteng. Our GBV brigades are doing sterling work by encouraging victims to come forward," said Mazibuko. 

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