Violence against Women: The Thuthuzela Care Centres turn victims into survivors
The Thuthuzela Care Centre (“TCC”) is a joint effort between the National Prosecuting Authority (“NPA”) and the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness (“the Department”). The TCC serves as a one stop shop for victims to report cases and for the NPA to do the necessary collection of evidence, to ensure the successful prosecution against these perpetrators of sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases.
On Wednesday, 31 August, in collaboration with partners, a new Thuthuzela Care Centre was launched in the province, based at Victoria Hospital. This centre, like others across the province, will be open 24 hours a day for seven days a week, to offer women a safe and dignified space to receive healthcare and treatment if they’ve suffered physical violence.
Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, attended the launch: “The launch of this centredemonstrates our commitment to provide dignified healthcare services to the women of our province, who’ve suffered violence, and particularly, sexual abuse. Despite the launch, taking place during Women’s Month, does not mean, women and the importance of women, should not be celebrated on a daily basis as GBV against women are a daily occurrence. I want every woman to know that our services are available 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and that because of Thuthuzela, they don’t have to wait in an emergency centre to receive care – they can come straight to here”.
These centres are mandated by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and through partnering with the NPA, the Department of Health and Wellness can support victims through providing medical care in a safe, trusting environment. Victims of abuse are cared for both physically and mentally at these centres. Violence and abuse survivors, are given care and counseling to support them through this difficult time, also maximizing the opportunity of a successful prosecution of the perpetrator.
These centres are designed to offer hope, in the face of the cycle of violence, faced by women, daily. Violence against women is a major public health problem, requiring a wider system and societal response.
Minister Mbombo continued: “We partner with Thuthuzela because we know women need these specialized healthcare services, due to high levels of sexual abuse, we see in our society, but this does not root out the problem. I am angered every day by these attacks on our women, and we need all members of society to come to table to put a stop to GBV. Our hospital statistics are showing the frightening reality on the ground, which our women are facing daily.”
Data collected at the 34 Emergency Centres from 1 January to 25 August 2022 regarding women who are injured due to assault:
- 9 595 women were treated for assault at ECs. This represents28% of the patients treated for assault at emergency centres
- Women between the ages of 15 and 45 were most often assaulted.
- The most common type of assault experienced by women seen in our emergency centres was blunt assault (54%), followed by assault with a sharp object (29%). (Blunt assault refers to physical attack with a dull, rather than a sharp, object e.g. a stick or a stone).
- In this period, 11% of all trauma patients seen in emergency centres using HECTIS (which includes patients injured in accidents, assaults, road traffic incidents, and by self-harm) were women treated for assault. For comparison, trauma due to road traffic incidents in these same emergency centres also represents 11% of the total trauma patient load. In other words, the trauma burden of assaulted women on our emergency facilities is as great as the trauma burden of road traffic incidents.
Since the start of 2022 until 29 August, our FPS recorded 2 875 deaths due to unnatural causes. Of these, 255 were women who were murdered through violent acts.
- 104 due to gunshot wounds
- 71 due to sharp objects
- 80 due to other causes
During the month of August alone, 29 women died due to unnatural causes in the Western Cape.
Minister Mbombo stated: “While across society there is much more that needs to be done, the TCCs are a good example of collaboration across various spheres of government to ensure we tackle this everyday plight of women and scourge together. The reduction of violence and trauma against women remains a challenge for our whole society to grapple with, and one which the Western Cape Government takes extremely seriously and is determined to play its part.”
The Department is currently supporting the following TCC facilities:
Atlantis TCC, Wesfleur Hospital – 021 816 8537
George TCC, George Hospital – 044 802 4406
Heideveld TCC, Heideveld CDC – 021 699 3246
Karl Bremer TCC, Karl Bremer Hospital – 021 918 1321 or 021 918 1983
Khayelitsha TCC, Khayelitsha Hospital – 021 360 4570 or 021 360 4704
Paarl TCC, Paarl Hospital – 021 860 2521
Victoria TCC, Victoria Hospital – 021 799 1235
Worcester TCC, Worcester Hospital – 023 348 1294
Minister Mbombo encourages those affected by GBV, to contact or visit any of these TCC facilities.