They might be from different political parties that have contrasting ideologies, but on gender-based violence they all agree – it is an issue that cannot be politicised.
Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille, who is also the leader of GOOD, her social development counterpart, Lindiwe Zulu, a staunch ANC member, and the DA’s Sharna Fernandez, who serves as Western Cape social development MEC, held a joint media briefing this week on the conversion of specifically identified state-owned properties into shelters for affected women and children.
“We are one government. We might have some political differences, the DA and ANC, but when it comes to the issue of violence against women and children my view is that we need to put some of those things aside and say what do we do to support our people,” Zulu told a media briefing at Parliament.
Fernandez agreed, saying a perpetrator was unlikely to ask his victim what his or her political affiliation was.
“If you get raped, the perpetrator does not ask what colour T-shirt you wear, whether its red, yellow, orange or blue, so we very clear we will not politicise this space especially around women and children,” she said.
De Lille announced that six buildings in the Western Cape have been handed to social development to be converted into shelters for women and children who have survived violence in the home.
The shelters will be situated along the Garden Route, West Coast and Central Karoo districts although the exact locations will not be disclosed to protect those who will be housed there.
“We know that many women stay in these abusive relationships because they have nowhere to go. They are depending on their partners,” said De Lille.
“We want to say to women you don’t have to stay in that abusive relationship but walk away … that is why as [the] government, we want to make these safe houses, shelters available across the country…”
Two buildings have also been handed over in the Johannesburg Metro, in addition to four others that were transferred to social development last year.
The social development department is currently equipping the buildings as shelters for women and children and making sure the necessary psycho-social support is provided to survivors once they open.