Safety for vicitims of violence

Johann Kikillus, Soteria Ministries, Ocean View

A recent front-page article in the Cape Times, “Nearly 37 000 kids removed from violent homes in Western Cape”, highlighted a tragic fact about our beloved province.

According to the Department of Social Development, almost 37 000 children were removed from homes due to violence.

It is impossible to comment fully on this matter in a letter, but I wish to raise some issues based on our experience in the far south.

Firstly, the vast majority of young mothers, aged between 15 and 25 years old, that we assist each year refuse to comment on who the father of their child is. It is clear that many men are happy to impregnate young women and then take absolutely no responsibility for their offspring, often resulting in those poor women having to fend for themselves.

This can be a recipe for poverty and undue stress.

Men need to step up here. The courts will gladly assist in getting deadbeat fathers to pay maintenance.

Secondly, in almost every case that we deal with, there is alcohol or drug abuse.

It baffles me then that almost every week I am sent an email requesting my thoughts on the extension of some or other liquor outlet’s trading hours.

We need to admit that alcohol is a problem in the far south. As is drug abuse.

Previously, I was dealing mostly with tik-related cases, but since marijuana has been legalised, we are seeing more and more cases involving dagga.

Thirdly, gone are the days where it was mostly men who abused the family. Probably close to half of our cases involve women (addicted to alcohol or drugs) and teenagers who are out of control.

Sadly we see a huge number of abused elderly people who are being robbed by addicted family members.

Our hospitals across the province are seeing an increase in interpersonal violence among family members.

My last point is that there is very little decent help for families stuck in violence.

Often social workers have to wait months for placements for children.

Some youth and child centres are nothing more than places to recruit new gang members.

Earlier this month, I spoke to social workers outside of Cape Town who have nowhere to send abused women and children to.

Our society needs a wake-up call.

Government needs to prioritise safety for victims of violence. Churches need to step in and assist families trapped in cycles of violence. Our communities need to take responsibility and action for the scourge of gangsterism, alcoholism and drug addiction.

I would like to see more public meetings being held across the far south to address these matters.