South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has signed three gender-based violence (GBV) bills into legislation in February 2022, meaning the country has stepped up its protection for women and children, while survivors have a better chance of receiving justice. While these three new GBV laws in South Africa will help to protect women and children from harm and abuse, they alone will not stop harm and abuse from existing.
Playing its part in combatting this scourge in our country, Friday 16 September will see the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) launching its GBV&F project and Victim Empowerment Centre at the Soshanguve South Campus.
To address the national GBV&F crisis successfully, Dr Teddy Setshedi, Campus Coordinator at the Tshwane University of Technology’s Soshanguve Campus, and Project Leader of the gender-based violence and femicide (GBV&F) empowerment programme at the Soshanguve campuses, said empowering law enforcement officers must play a vital role in the protection of those vulnerable to GBV&F.
In 2021, he promised that: “Training will be provided to Liaison Officers deployed by the South African Police Service (SAPS), tasked with investigating gender-based violence and femicide cases on and off campus in 2022.”
Front row from left: Stephen Ngobeni, workshop facilitator and Managing Director of CASSTI; Prof Mashupye Maserumule, Executive Dean: Faculty of Humanities; Dr Teddy Setshedi, Campus Coordinator at TUT’s Soshanguve South Campus, and Project Leader of the Soshanguve GBV&F Empowerment programme; Dr Etienne van Wyk, Executive Dean of the Faculty of ICT and interim Campus rector of the Soshanguve Campus; Colonel Dolo, SAPS Head Office Division Visible Policing and Operations.
Following his promise, this empowerment drive kicked off at the Soshanguve South Campus last week with a 2-day training workshop to gender-based violence and femicide liaison officers stationed near TUT’s campuses. The workshop focused on topics such as femicide, inclusivity and campus community policing.
Dr Setshedi highlighted the importance of the 2-day training workshop, saying: “Only through human dignity and social rights, strengthened by social cohesion, can we claim national identity, however, our officers cannot defeat these perpetrators alone. We need a focussed approach of collaborative, communal relationships with societies, hence the creation of Campus Community Policing Forums to ensure a coordinated response to crises of gender-based violence and femicide.”
GBV&F comes at a high cost to the country. Using a conservative estimate, we know that gender-based violence costs South Africa between R28. 4 billion and R42. 4 billion per year – or between 0.9% and 1.3% of GDP annually. Between 25% and 40% of South African women have experienced sexual and/or physical IPV in their lifetime.
“We need a multi-sectoral approach, which harnesses the roles, resources and commitment across TUT departments, civil society, student structures, the media, and other stakeholders,” he added.
According to Dr Setshedi, the relentlessness and severity of gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa, necessitates constant collaboration with experts in this field, including the SAPS National Office, led by Major General Thokozani Mathonsi Head: Social Crime Prevention and Visible Policing divisions. In addition, the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, a strategic partner in the project, is piloting the Victim Empowerment Centre at the Soshanguve South Campus. The aim is to consolidate the roll-out of such entities to all TUT campuses through the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
Another initiative that will add value, is the Soul City Institute’s planned awareness and related development programmes, which will focus on our young girls entering social circles, equipping them with knowledge and skills on regulating acceptable behaviour in these groups. Ms Phinah Kodisang, Chief Operating Officer of the institute, spearheads these programmes.
According to the SAPS National office, the TUT Soshanguve Campus is ideal as a model to roll out this project nationally for the following reasons:
- Soshanguve, as a geographic location, is becoming a serious hotspot within a campus vicinity;
- The campus has a population of nearly 17 000 students from various locations in the country;
- The residences are always vulnerable to criminal attacks from criminal syndicates; and
- The Ministry of Police has identified the campus as one of the universities in need of urgent and critical attention.
For more information about the GBV&F project, please contact Dr Teddy Setshedi at SetshediTTF@tut.ac.za