The Mangaung South African Police Service (SAPS) launched its 16 Days of Activism campaign for no violence against women and children last week when community members gathered in prayer for the campaign. Different religious groups, including Christian and Muslim, along with the young and old, were asked to regard this campaign ahead of the festive season as a serious matter.
Constable Ntswaki Phandliwe of the Mangaung Police Station stated that the campaign was of importance to the community as there are many reports on incidents of domestic violence. “We have a very high rate of domestic violence. When you look at our statistics, we do not have many serious crimes besides assaults and cases of grievous bodily harm, which are commonly incidents of domestic violence. We want the community to feel safe enough to access their police stations in these situations,” explained Phandliwe.
“The campaign is about to start. There are a lot of programmes that we will undertake in Mangaung during the 16 days and into the festive season,” she added. The launch took place at the police station in Phahameng near Heidedal where people from all over Mangaung often report cases. The 16 Days of Activism campaign is held all over the country from 25 November to 10 December every year.
Malefu Shibane of the Department of Social Development stated that officials see numerous cases of abuse within families. “There have been many reports of violence since Women’s Month in August, so I implore women to not only take out protection orders against their abusers but to pursue them in court as well. It may save their lives,” Shibane explained.
She also mentioned that abuse often has profound effects on children as well. “Children can develop depression, they may drop out of school, make bad decisions in life and hold bad feelings against their elders. Women may hold onto abusive relationships because of their children but during counselling they often express frustration and resentment towards their mothers for staying in those situations,” said Shibane.
Community member, Nomvlazana Mzamo, stated that the launch was a good learning experience but added that men are excluded from campaigns on abuse. “There are cases of female-on-male abuse but nobody speaks about that. Sometimes men’s human rights are not taken into consideration,” Mzamo added. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele