Gender-based violence fund gets R500m boost, as Ramaphosa slams heckling MPs

31 October 2019 - 18:44 By THABO MOKONE
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa told MPs that government had found an additional R500m to fight gender-based violence, raising the GBV emergency fund he announced in September to R1.6bn.

The president made the announcement on Thursday while addressing the issue of GBV during an oral question-and-answer session in the National Assembly.

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe asked Ramaphosa to detail how the R1.1bn he had announced two months ago would be spent, and which government departments would be held accountable for the expenditure.

During the Q&A, Ramaphosa almost lost his cool, telling MPs that “maybe I should not speak” as the DA side of the house heckled him while he was addressing what he termed a sensitive matter.

Ramaphosa said, among other things, that the R1.6bn emergency fund on GBV, which grew following a “reprioritisation of resources”, would be spent as follows:

  • R179m allocated to education, awareness and prevention programmes to address issues such as patriarchy;
  • R517m set aside to fund care and support programmes of survivors of GBV; and
  • 200 social workers would be hired “to provide targeted services to survivors” at social work centres, including the Thuthuzela centres.

“The budget for this intervention is still to be finalised through the ongoing reprioritisation process, as there's approximately R20m still needed to strengthen accountability measures,” said Ramaphosa.

“Now to ensure that the reallocation of resources has the necessary affect, government is working with civil society and other partners to ensure that all of these measures are implemented with urgency.”

Ramaphosa said he would also be holding police minister Bheki Cele accountable over reports that some police stations were still without rape kits, despite his undertaking that this would not be the case by mid-October.

This was after DA MP Siviwe Gwarube flagged the issue of rape kits with Ramaphosa.

Rape kits are crucial tools in the early stages of probing sexual offence cases as they are used by police to gather DNA evidence.

But Ramaphosa was not impressed when DA MPs heckled him as he addressed questions on GBV, rebuking them for “trivialising” the scourge of violence against women and children.

“No, maybe you should listen first. We're dealing with a very serious matter and I must say, deputy speaker, that I do object to members trivialising this matter by interjecting as I answer because when they ask questions I don't interject,” said an irritated Ramaphosa.

“We're dealing with a very serious matter, the women of our country are listening and they don't want to hear heckling to the questions that you have raised… Well maybe I should keep quiet and not speak,” Ramaphosa snapped as DA MPs continued with their heckling.

They only relented after deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli told them to take their “screaming” outside the chamber.

Ramaphosa said that a government social worker would be sent to provide counselling and other support to a 91-year-old Soweto grandmother whose 53-year-old son allegedly attempted to rape her.

The 53 year-old man has been arrested and Ramaphosa said he hoped the courts would not release him on bail.

“What we need to lay out to her is that we're a caring and sensitive government, we're going to be there to support her and we're also going to mobilise a number of other organisations to be there, to support her as best as we possibly can.”

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