Police and community members say the growing cases of gender-based violence (GBV) in the Selosesha cluster in Botshabelo east of Bloemfontein is likely the result of substance abuse and high unemployment rates.
Speaking at a community dialogue in August police spokesperson and visible policing office delegate Lefu Masiza says more cases are being reported at the Botshabelo police station than other parts of the cluster.
“We are getting high cases of GBV in Botshabelo than other parts of our cluster. Botshabelo is the biggest [station] in the cluster. We are working well with Setshabelo Safety House to provide shelter for those who find themselves abused. We are becoming a station that only deals with this scourge and we are appealing to our people to help us,” he says.
The dialogue was hosted by the Centre for Morals and Values, an organisation that helps the community with social ills challenges such as women abuse and assists rape victims. The aim of the dialogue was to unpack the causes of the scourge in the area. Various speakers including survivors shared their own experiences. This was done as part of commemoration of Women month.
According to Sidwell Mokwena from the centre, women and children were mostly affected by sexual assaults and domestic violence. He says substance abuse is a worrying factor behind the scourge.
“From cases we have followed, causes of the GBV are largely related to usage of drugs and alcohol. Botshabelo on its own has become hub of drug use that is affecting families physically, mentally and financially,” Mokwena says.
Violence at home and beyond
Noma Themba, 33, (not her real name) says she has been subjected to sexual violence which she believes was also related to her drug use problem.
“I was married to an abusive husband who was always beating for a reason. I left him and got a job then things got hard when I lost my job. I found myself seeking comfort in drugs. I was then abused by some drug sellers if I were unable to pay them,” she says.
Another survivor is Sello Moleko, 43, a father of two. He says his wife of 12 years is in jail for attempting to murder him. “I was in a coma for three months after my ex-wife tried to kill me. I think causes of GBV vary from case to case. We should be able to curb the growing of the scourge by providing jobs and support to business funding,” he says.
Schools not safe either
A teacher and activist warned learners of professional abusers among teachers too. Tshepo Rabolila says schools are becoming ground for sexual violence to take place due to teachers who continue being in relationship with pupils.
“We are having teachers who force relationships with pupils and abuse them. We should be able to stop that, and name and shame these teachers. Learners should expose teachers who use their professional positions to force them [learners] into sex,” he says.
Rabolila calls on learners and parents to report teachers who prey on children. “We are saying we should be able stop these animals which purport themselves as teachers yet they are luring kids into inappropriate relationships,” he adds.
Acting manager of Aga Sechaba, a non-profit organisation that also helps those being abused, Tshepo Molale says: “The problem of GBV needs communities and civil society to come together and make their mark.” Health-e News.