Today I had the honour of speaking to courageous women at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Manenberg where I donated 50 beds to the facility.
Since 1999, the centre has housed women who have left their homes with their children because of abuse. It provides a safe haven for them and gives them a chance to rebuild their lives.
It currently accommodates more than 100 women and children survivors in the residential facility.
When we heard that some of them share beds because of a shortage, I felt that it was important for us to lend a helping hand in line with the City of Cape Town’s commitment to building a caring city.
These women and children deserve a comfortable and conducive environment to aid their recovery – which the centre is already providing – but I’m hoping these 50 beds will be able help even more.On average, the team at Saartjie Baartman and partner organisations assist up to 600 clients for domestic- or sexual violence-related matters a month.
The abuse and killing of women and children is in an indictment on our society and calls for greater action from all sectors to stand together and put an end to this scourge.
As we commemorate Women’s Month, in this country, we face a sad crisis where men raise their hands and in too many senseless acts, kill women and children.
In Cape Town and across the country in this year alone we have seen too many abuse cases ending in women and children being killed.
That is why today I want to salute all of the women who walked away from someone or a situation that no longer cared for their well-being.
Women are too often scared to speak about abuse and people who know about the abuse but keep quiet are also at fault.
We cannot give up in the fight to rid our nation of this despicable occurrence. We have to take the lead from these courageous women who refused to be victims any longer and chose to survive with their children.
A true testament of the Saartjie Baartman Centre’s work can be seen in the lives of two of their employees who for years battled in abusive relationships and even struggled with substance abuse. After being admitted to the centre, undergoing therapy and skills training, the two women are now staff members. They join many other women who found protection and empowerment at the centre and went on to reclaim and rebuild their lives, free of abuse.
The City of Cape Town is also playing its part in fighting this scourge of violence against women and children. Over the last two years we have trained approximately 1 020 people through Mosaic and other partners to raise awareness on domestic and gender-based violence in communities in the metro.
In 2016, the City also initiated the Women for Change programme where we currently employ over 780 women living in our Council rental stock to help uplift their communities through addressing environmental and socio-economic challenges.
This programme has shown many positive results in our communities and is in line with the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan principles to enhance service delivery, to be more a more responsive and customer-centric government, and to build safe communities.
As a caring city, we also realise that winter is a difficult time of the year – especially for vulnerable groups including street people. That is why we are also donating beds to night shelters and old-age homes.
Including those delivered to the Saartjie Baartman Centre, a total of 113 beds will be going to night shelters in Elsies River, Bellville, Retreat, Somerset West and Philippi.
This is in addition to our Winter Readiness programme which kicked off in May. During this period, street people are provided with emergency beds, hygiene packs and nutritional items issued to the organisation where the individuals are placed during this period.
The City has also disbursed aid to the value of R700 000 to 16 organisations that have all successfully applied for assistance during winter.
In our work of building a caring city, we need action from all sectors in society, but most importantly those who are suffering at the hands of abuse must take stand, claim their rights, and know that they are worth more and deserve only the best.
With everyone doing more to help this plight of women and child abuse, we can continue to make progress possible together.