Breaking the silence on gender violence

Back, from left, are Tashleema Isaacs, chairperson of Mitchell’s Plain Crisis Forum (MPCF); Sergeant Hendry Steyn; Anga Mntuyedwa, a social worker at Mosaic; and Jamilla de Jongh, ACVV auxiliary social worker. Front: Survivors Haven Foundation members Janine Passienz and Dominique van Schoor and MPCF vice chairperson Tania Arends

There are several organisations that victims of abuse can turn to for help, a meeting in Brooklyn heard at the weekend.

The Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereniging’s (ACVV), a social-welfare group in Koeberg, invited organisations to speak to residents about receiving appropriate advice and referrals should they need help.

The meeting at the Tommy Rendle Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH) Hall on Saturday was part of the16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, from November 25 to December 10.

Survivors Haven Foundation; Mitchells Plain Crises Forum; Mosaic, an organisation helping to prevent violence against women; and Milnerton police’s domestic violence co-ordinator Sergeant Hendry Steyn joined discussions about how to prevent abuse and speak out against it.

Sergeant Steyn urged the 30-odd people who came to the meeting to call the police if they experienced abuse or witnessed it happening to someone else.

“How must we call police if they don’t come out when we call them?” shouted a voice from the crowd.

Andrea (not her real name) had the gathering in tears, including Sergeant Steyn, when she spoke about she had been abused by her ex-husband.

She had been locked away in her home for nearly 10 years, until one day when the neighbours, who had known about the abuse, had called the police, thinking her husband had killed her, she said.

She had filed for a protection order, but the police had told her to go on a hunt for the perpetrator and tell them his whereabouts before they could arrest him.

But nearly 12 years later the man had still not been “brought to book for the trauma he had caused for my family”.

Sergeant Steyn apologised to Andrea on behalf of his colleagues.

Mosaic social worker Anga Mntuyedwa said the organisation had rape crisis clinics and ran counselling and support programmes for women. The public can call 021 761 7585 for more information on these services.

ACVV auxiliary social worker Jamilla de Jongh said help for gender violence should go beyond the 16 Days campaign.

ACVV has branches in Ysterplaat, Albow Gardens, Maitland and Melkbosstrand. Call 021 511 3001 or 021 511 6474

Mr De Jongh said she had hoped for a better turnout at the meeting especially from men in the community.

Community activist Fay Vogel said police stations that gave inadequate help to abuse victims should be reported to community police forums.

Community activist Fay Vogel