Johannesburg – Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, has relaunched the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre, a 24-hour facility in Salvokop, Pretoria, which addresses a variety of emergencies such as indecent assault, physical violence, rape, abandonment of children and various other forms of abuse.
The relaunch of the GBVF Command Centre aims to assist the most vulnerable in South African, who live each day with the risk of abuse and violence.
It comes as the country marks the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign.
“If we do not deal with the issue of GBVF house to house, street to street, community to community — we will not be able to take action on the ground,” the Minister said at the relaunch on Friday.
She said government must make use of technology to assist women who are in distress so that they can be responded to in time.
“It’s not just 16 Days of Activism – it is 365 days of action,” Zulu said.
Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nomathemba Mokgethi, said the centre must act as a strategic link between victims and GBV programmes, and advance community involvement to ensure a safer environment.
“The centre will assist us to work collaboratively with government and society to combat GBV and other forms of inhuman behaviour. As the Gauteng province, we are proud that the centre is located in the capital city,” Mokgethi said.
Nardos Bekele-Thomas, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa, emphasised the need to restore family values and moral authority.
Bekele-Thomas challenged individuals to play their role towards ending GBV, noting that partnerships are critical.
“In every aspect of our lives, we have to question what is our role and the guiding principle of our lives. In these smaller and bigger pieces of the puzzle, we all have our place,” Bekele-Thomas said.
Bekele-Thomas committed the UN to continuing to support the development of the centre’s initiative to end GBV.
South African Council of Churches (SACC) General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, performed a candle-lighting ceremony in memory of survivors and victims of GBVF, as well for people who passed away due to COVID-19.
He said the light is a symbol of the affirmation of life over death, light over darkness, and victory of light and life.
“Light is more powerful than darkness and one candle light has the power to dispel darkness,” Mpumlwana said.
The facility’s emergency line can be accessed by phone: 0800 428 428; “Please call me” *120*7867#; Skype: add ‘Helpme GBV’ to your Skype contacts; and SMS: send ‘help’ to 31531.
The relaunch takes place a year after President Cyril Ramaphosa made an undertaking that government will modernise the national sex offender register, propose to Cabinet that all crimes should get harsher sentences, and that the State should oppose bail for perpetrators of rape.