Tag Archives: Sexual Assault

Gender-Based Violence Command Centre wins Best Technology Innovation world award

Announcement animation

Pretoria, November 5, 2015 – The Department of Social Development’s Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) – a 24-hour call centre dedicated to providing support and counselling to victims of gender based violence – has been named the Best Technology Innovation – Small Centre of the world at the Global Best Contact Centre Awards in Las Vegas on November 5.

As the Gold Medal Winner, this means the GBVCC is ranked number one in the world in its category.

This adds to three other highly acclaimed service awards the GBVCC has won since its launch in March 2014 – the Innovation Award in the Contact Centre Management Group (CCMG) awards, the Changing Lives Award in the Africom Awards, as well as the Golden Award won in the Technological Innovation Awards in London.

Minister for Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, says the international recognition of the GBVCC communicates the South African government’s commitment to fighting gender-based violence to the rest of the world and places the country at the lead of international best practice against gender-based violence.

“We launched the Command Centre as part of our service delivery improvement programme aimed at responding quicker, more effectively and innovatively to social challenges in the country, Project Mikondzo. Being recognised for best technology innovation in the world confirms that we are on the right track and it inspires us to work even harder to find inventive ways of responding effectively to the social challenges in the country.

Rose opening Animation

“The award comes just a few weeks before we launch the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children 2015 Campaign and emboldens us to work harder to eradicate violence against women and children. We express our thanks to the organisations who have partnered with us in making this project a reality,” said Minister Dlamini.

The GBVCC uses mobile technology to estimate the location of a victim, assign the closest social worker in the field to the case, and record and receive continuous feedback on the case. When a caller contacts the GBVCC from a mobile phone, they are (with explicit permission) geographically located, enabling the Centre to determine the resources nearest to the caller, whether it be a social worker, a police station, a hospital or safe house. In this way, help is dispatched in quick fashion.

The toll free number to call to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling is 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). Callers can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.

Girl holding teddy

The GBVCC emanated from the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on the Root Causes of Violence Against Women and Children – chaired by Minister Dlamini.

The IMC was established by President Jacob Zuma in May 2012 to reinforce political leadership and accountability in the national prevention and response to the rising figures of sexual violence in our country.

The membership of the IMC comprises of the Ministers of Justice and Constitutional Development; Women; Home Affairs; Police and Basic Education. Through the GBVCC, the work of this Committee is certainly contributing towards the improvement of the country response to and prevention of sexual violence.

Media inquiries: Lumka Oliphant on 083 484 8067 or lumkao@dsd.gov.za

Is this a case of Structural Racism?


The Oscar Pistorius extensive media coverage at present highlights the extreme prejudice, discrimination, unequal treatment and racism towards the plight of violence against women and children in our country here in South Africa.

A case that has received very limited media coverage in the media is the case of Zanele Khumalo, also a model who was strangled and raped at her parents’ home by her 28 year old boyfriend Thato Kutumela. Kutumela was found guilty last year and is currently in court, two doors away from where the Oscar Pistorius case is being heard, arguing for mitigation of sentence.

According to the SA Institute of Race Relations research, 2500 women are killed by their intimate partners every year.

• Who are they?
• Where do they come from?
• Why is their story not being told?
• What colour (race) are they?

Is South Africa experiencing structural racism? Surely everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity?

What exactly is “structural racism”?

As such structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism — it is not something that could possibly have disappeared in 1994 when political power was formally handed over by the white minority. Because of the way in which structural racism normalises white dominance and superiority, it entrenches and perpetuates inequalities in power, access, opportunities, and treatment. This is not necessarily done knowingly and intentionally: the power of structural racism is exactly its ability to make itself invisible. This allows its beneficiaries to deny its existence (and genuinely believing in its absence) while benefiting from it.

Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually producing new, and re-producing old forms of racism.


In the Oscar Pistorius case, certain facts regarding the injuries sustained and the post mortem results were withheld from the general public “to protect the dignity of the victim”.

What about Anene Booysen? Her gruesome injuries and post mortem results were shared in all media (print and electronic). What about her dignity? What about her family who constantly had to be reminded about her gruesome death? Her perpetrator’s trial was not televised internationally like the Oscar/Reeva story.

There are many similarities between the Oscar/Reeva story and the Thato/Zanele story i.e.
• Oscar is a male in his twenties and so is Thato
• Reeva was an attractive model with a promising future and so was Zanele

The spotlight is on the “white” case instead of equal treatment for the people involved, irrespective of their colour, race, class or background. Is this what “justice for all” means?

Is the life of a “Black” person less valuable than that of a “White” person? Does being “Black” or any other race mean we are invisible? Am I any less of a person just because I don’t have money and access to resources?

What do you think?
Is this a case of Structural Racism?

Clip Art Graphic of a Pillar Cartoon Character

Zanele Khumalo (a model), five months pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. Raped and murdered by her boyfriend Thato Kutumela in her parents’ home.

His sentence?
10 years in prison for rape PLUS
20 years in prison for murder
Sentences to run concurrently which means he would be eligible for parole after serving just one third of his sentence i.e. about 6 years in prison.

Domestic Violence – How to evaluate Police Response

Woman stroking cat Animation

How do you evaluate the police response and the police report on your domestic violence call? How do you identify problems with the way the police responded so that you can act quickly to get these problems corrected?

Here are a few questions you could use to provide feedback to your Police station and to your community on how well Police are responding to domestic violence cases.

The Police report is usually the most critical document a survivor will have in determining whether or not she can escape domestic violence. If the Police report is done correctly, it can serve as a solid basis for prosecuting the perpetrator and for providing the authority for putting the perpetrator under control. A good Police report can also resolve problems the survivor may encounter in many other areas, such as family court, or in problems with landlords, school, employment, immigration, etc.

An incomplete or inaccurate report can seriously undermine a survivor’s attempt to end the violence. A bad Police report makes prosecution of the perpetrator very difficult or nearly impossible and the report may be used by the perpetrator against the survivor. It’s always worth your while to make the effort to evaluate Police response and report as soon as possible, and then to seek the needed redress.

Basic elements of good Police response to domestic violence should include information based on the following questions. Please remember you don’t have to answer any question(s) you DON’T WANT TO ANSWER and you don’t have to answer any questions that are not relevant to your particular case. If more than one Officer responded to your call, you can choose to only answer to ONE OFFICER, or you could respond to both, referring to them as Officer number 1 and Officer number 2.

The Interview:
• Did you feel the Officer showed concern for you and your safety?
• Did the Officer make sure that you could tell your story safely and comfortably (by giving you enough time, privacy, encouragement, or whatever else you needed to tell your story)?
• If you do not speak English well, did the Officer provide you with a professional interpreter (either a fully bilingual Officer or a telephone interpreter – not a family member or neighbour)?
• Did the Officer ask you about the history of abuse in the relationship?
• Did the Officer ask you whether the abuser had ever been abusive to the children or pets?
• Did the Officer ask you specific information about any threats made against you?
• Did the Officer ask you if your partner has ever forced you to have sex when you did not want to have sex?

• Did the Officer ask you if the abuser ever used weapons against you?
• Did the Officer ask if the abuser has guns or has access to guns?
• If you told the Officer the abuser has guns, did the Officer remove the guns?

Your injuries and evidence:
• Did the Officer ask about all your injuries?
• Did the Officer take pictures of all your injuries or arrange to have pictures taken?
• Did the Police make arrangements to take another set of pictures of your injuries later?
• Did the Officer collect, or take pictures of, all physical evidence (such as knives, broken furniture, broken telephone lines or telephone instruments, etc)?

• Did the Officer get a statement from each of the children who are old enough to talk?
• If you were present, do you feel the Officer interviewed your children with sensitivity (away from the perpetrator, with age-appropriate questions, at eye level with the children, and with a caring tone, etc)?
• Did the Officer ask you about the possibility of other witnesses?
• Did the Police interview other possible witnesses or make an attempt to interview those witnesses?

• If the abuser was present, did the Officer arrest the abuser?
• If the abuser left the scene, did the Officer ask you for complete information about the possible whereabouts of the abuser?

Protection Orders:
• Did the Officer ask you if you have a Protection Order against the abuser? (A Protection Order could also be called a Restraining Order or Stay Away Order or No Contact Order)
• If you have a Protection Order, did the Officer ask to see the Order?
• If you didn’t have a Protection Order, did the Officer offer you an Emergency (Temporary) Protection Order?
• Did the Officer issue you an Emergency (Temporary) Protection Order?

• Did the Officer give you verbal information on the services available to you?
• Did the Officer give you written information on the services available to you?
• Did the Officer give you the Crime Report Number (Crime Incidence Report number)?
• Did the Officer ask you if you had any questions?
• If you had questions, did the Officer answer your questions to your satisfaction?
• Did the Officer adequately explain to you what will happen next and when it will happen?

What rape survivors need

Pooh and his duck

How well do you LISTEN? When someone wants to speak to you about something really important to them, do you actually listen or are you just hearing what they are saying?

Active listening takes effort and concentration. When someone wants to share an experience with you, they are putting a lot of trust in you.

Sometimes it is difficult to be a good listener because what you are being told, may bring up strong emotions in yourself. Your own inner voice may drown out what the other person is saying because you are shocked, hurt or unsure of what to say. You need to try to understand your own emotions – you will be able to concentrate more on the other person once you understand your own reactions.

There is a poem I heard many years ago that made a huge impact on me and I’ve never forgotten it. When someone wants to share an experience with me, some of the words of this poem spring to mind and I try to apply them by focussing only on the person sharing with me and I try to REALLY LISTEN!

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper. And I can do for myself; I am not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can stop trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling. And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes, for some people – because God is mute, and he doesn’t give advice or try to fix things. God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.

Author Unknown

Breaking the Silence


Zama Ndlovu review of Redi book



Zama Ndlovu’s definitive review of Redi Thlabi’s groundbreaking memoir, Endings and Beginnings (Jacana) describes how this brave broadcaster and columnist has not just broken the silence that normally surrounds and protects sexual abusers of children and women in South Africa, but also explained why this silence is so widespread here, and where it’s sources lie in our culture and history.


This book does not just enlighten, it forces the reader to question the silence as never before and to  think of constructive action.

Sadly, this was Zama Ndlovu’s  last but one column in The Times.