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Domestic violence victim's shelters in disarray

According to one of the commissioners, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, shelters in SA have excluded children from getting direct access to them.
According to one of the commissioners, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, shelters in SA have excluded children from getting direct access to them.
Image: Stock

Shelters meant to help victims of domestic violence are underfunded and the commission for gender equality has found discrepancies in budget allocations and suspected mismanagement of funds.

Hearings on investigations into shelters began at the Parktonian Hotel in Johannesburg yesterday.

The acting director-general for the department of social development, Mzolisi Tony, was put in the hot seat by provincial commissioners as they questioned the operations of his department.

However, Tony asked for more time to reply to the questions in writing.

Chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality, Tamara Mathebula said the commission had found that the department had no funding framework and guidelines on resource allocation.

"In the absence of that, the national development overseeing this also lacks proper management functions," said Mathebula.

Mathebula said it had been discovered in provinces that the budget allocations were not made according to population and gender-based violence levels in each area.

"The department itself is dysfunctional and there is no clear line function, there is no specific person to account on record for mismanagement and discrepancies," she said.

Mathebula said the commission was also concerned about the total packages offered in shelters.

"Our findings have revealed that there is no uniform service structure in these shelters and no specialised psychologist hired by the department to offer psychosocial services to victims," she said.

One of the commissioners, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, said shelters in SA have excluded children from getting direct access to them.

"Children are required to bring their parents to gain access to safety, health and accommodation," she said.

"Most children are abused from their homes and by guardians and we find it not fair that children end up in the streets because they have no one to bring them to shelters."

Mofokeng said the commission had also discovered huge budget discrepancies in KwaZulu-Natal.

"KwaZulu-Natal has moved from a R14m budget to R62m in shelter budgets in the past four years for a database of 20 shelters and 16 white centres of hope. It is a very huge difference, especially because that figure increased only in the last financial year. We want to know who informed the budget allocation and how did it arrive to that figure."

She said as the director-general could not answer how these discrepancies had come about, the commission would bring in the public protector and the SA Humans Rights Commission should there be fraud and corruption findings on the allocations.

Mofokeng said shelters were not equipped but huge amounts were authorised by officials to fund them.

She said vulnerable groups such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, asexual and LGBTQIA+ were not catered for in safe houses.

The hearings are expected to continue until Friday.

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