United front against abuse

Working together to fight abuse, from left, are Woodstock police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Alroy van der Berg, WCMPU project manager Shariefa Job, Rape Crisis volunteer René Johns, Woodstock CPF chairman Cedric Thomas, ACVV social worker Nobuntu Tshoni and provincial police administrator, Riaan Baadjies.

The Woodstock police and community police forum, along with social workers and volunteers from community groups, showed a united front last week against abuse.

The gathering at Community House in Salt River, on Thursday November 25, marking the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, was about showing a commitment to support women and children who were victims of violence, said Woodstock police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Alroy van der Berg.

“It is time to move from awareness to accountability. We need to hold all our partners accountable for what we are responsible for,” he said. “Only then, will there be a change in the fate of our victims.”

The Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereniging(ACVV), Western Cape Missing Persons Unit (WCMPU) and Rape Crises were represented at the event.

The CPF’s chairman, Cedric Thomas, said abuse could take many forms, and anyone who found it difficult to report abuse to the Woodstock police should contact the CPF as it played an oversight role at the station.

ACVV social worker Nobuntu Tshoni said they had noticed an increase in domestic violence during Covid-19 lockdown. “Parents were fighting and it affected the children,” she said.

In cases of sexual abuse involving children, the organisation worked with the police’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS), she said. “Social workers can’t take the children to the doctor without consulting FCS.”

Rape Crisis volunteer René Johns said they offered free counselling to rape victims. “We also have the toll-free 24-hour hotline, where anyone can call us to ask us who they can report their crime to.”

WCMPU project manager Shariefa Job said they worked closely with the police on missing persons cases.

“Sometimes we have teenagers who tend to go missing two to three times a year because their living circumstances are difficult, like perhaps 10 families living on one property,” she said.

For more information, call Woodstock police at 021 442 3117, WCMPU at 082 225 2612 or Rape Crisis hotline at 021 447 9762.