OP-ED: Latest crime stats calls for more from us | Western Cape Government


OP-ED: Latest crime stats calls for more from us

28 August 2023

As Western Cape Minister of Social Development, I deal on a daily basis with issues of gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against children.

For the social service professionals (social workers, social auxiliary workers, assistant probation officers, etc) of the provincial Department of Social Development, their lives revolve around serving the most vulnerable.

The Department has some of the most dedicated staff I’ve ever encountered. They often go beyond the call of duty to ensure a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) survivor is cared for, or a child who has been abused is immediately safeguarded, sometimes at great personal risk.

The latest first-quarter crime statistics for April to June 2023 spurs me on to work even harder as the lead minister for GBV in the province. While I welcome the decrease in the murder of women by 33.6% from last year April to June, one life lost is still one too many.

Incidents of rape have also dropped by 10.1%.

I’m pleased to see one of the Western Cape Government’s focus areas in the fight against GBV, Delft, saw a drop in rape cases of 38.3%. The Department launched a Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) Forum and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Ambassadors model in Delft in July.

Trained volunteers from the community are the ambassadors, providing information about victim support programmes and services available for the intervention and prevention of GBV to residents in Delft. The only other programme like this in the province is in the Swartland Municipality – the first municipality to implement the GBV Ambassadors programme in the province.

Swartland is situated in the West Coast District, where the crime stats reveal rape cases have decreased by 37.8% between April and June 2023 compared to last year during the same period.

Just this week, the Department of Social Development in partnership with NPOs Gender Equity and Reconciliation International and Genderworks, and the Chrysalis Academy, embarked on a two-day workshop on gender equity and reconciliation. I was joined by other provincial and local government officials, and stakeholders, learning how to restore gender imbalances and peace, and address sexual injustice.

The province is leading the charge in interventions to address GBV, as part of the Provincial GBV Implementation Plan and the Western Cape Safety Plan. The successes we are seeing in the West Coast and in Delft are thanks to a community buy-in. These areas prove collaborations between provincial and local government, NGOs, and communities result in amazing changes on the ground.

I believe the same can happen to protect our children.

The latest crime stats unfortunately show there was an increase of 48.3% in children who were murdered. This is unacceptable.

Reported alleged child abuse cases increased from 2114 between January to March 2023 to 2487 between April and June 2023. These range from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and others.

Where parents or caregivers fail in their duties to care and protect a child, the provincial department or a Designated Child Protection Organisation (DCPO) steps in.

The Department and DCPOs can only do so much. Just as the scourge of GBV can only be reduced by collaborations, so too can at-risk children only be safeguarded and protected if everyone does their part.

I implore communities to assist social service professionals like social workers when they see them performing their duties. Too often we hear of staff being attacked or hijacked, all while trying to work. When this happens, it is the most vulnerable who suffer.

A safer society is only possible through partnerships.

For anyone in need of GBV-related support services, these can be accessed by visiting your nearest DSD office, or by contacting one of our funded NPO partners. Services can also be accessed by calling the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre on 0800 428 428. More information about services can be found on helpformen.co.za.