Not every police station is properly equipped to sensitively deal with victims of gender-based violence or to provide a safe, comfortable space for them to talk to police officers and counsellors.
One such police station is the one in Samora Machel. So, Amandla Development decided to do something about it and last week launched a victim-friendly room at the police station.
It is based in a converted shipping container.
Project manager at Amandla Development, Phelisa Manyisane-Somciza, said it had come to their attention that there was no designated space at the police station for women to report crimes.
For this reason – and because there is a stigma attached to such crimes – many women were simply not reporting them.
So they approached SAPS about creating a safe space for victims of gender-based violence and woman and child abuse.
In the room, she said, they also installed recorders so that when statements are taken from them, they are recorded and victims don’t have to repeat what happened to them multiple times, which often forces them to relive their trauma.
“We want people to know that there is a place that is solely designated to help the GBV victims. There would be social workers who are going to deal with the victims and referrals would be done once the assessment and other procedures had been done,” said Ms Manyisane-Somciza.
“We are urging victims of GBV not to die in silence. We are here to listen to them and provide all the necessary help so that their lives could return normality. Some of the challenges that propels victims not report the matters to police in many cases is because the perpetrator is the provider at home,” she said.
In line with their efforts to enable victims to become self-reliant, she said, they also ran skills development programmes. In many cases, she said, the abuser was the breadwinner, so if women had skills which made them employable, it reduced the chances of them returning to an abusive environment.
Samora Machel police station commander Colonel Elliot Lingani said through Amandla Development’s intervention, the police station would be better equipped to address cases – and victims – of gender-based violence.