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Free support for victims of abuse

Written by: Dale Hes

A Gauteng non-profit organisation with links to the police, courts, clinics and community structures provides legal, psychological and emotional support to abuse survivors. Rethabile Moses, Thalita Makansi and Phumzile Mnisi from Lawyers Against Abuse.

A heroic team of lawyers and social workers is tackl

ing gender-based violence (GBV) by providing free legal services and counselling to victims and helping them put their abusers behind bars.

Based in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, Lawyers Against Abuse (LvA) was established in 2011 by Professor Bonita Meyersfeld. In 2014, the organisation launched its pilot centre in Diepsloot, providing specialised legal and psychosocial services to GBV survivors.

To date, LvA has provided critical support to over 1 000 survivors. It has supported 208 survivors in criminal cases, gained 584 protection orders and provided 340 survivors with therapy sessions.

Rethabile Moses, acting executive director for LvA, says  the organisation was formed to combat the high levels of GBV in Diepsloot.

“Tragically, prevalence rates often multiply in poor and marginalised communities. For example, in Diepsloot, research revealed that 56 percent of men committed some form of physical or sexual violence against a woman in the past 12 months, with one third using both physical and sexual violence.”

LvA has formed strong partnerships with various sectors of society in order to give victims the best legal and psychosocial assistance possible.

LvA has played a crucial role in securing prison sentences for GBV perpetrators.

In 2017, Mantwa* was beaten and raped by her ex-boyfriend Joshua*, a known serial rapist and gang member. At the police station, she was referred to LvA for support.

“In the months that followed, LvA engaged with the investigating officer assigned to Mantwa’s case to ensure that it moved forward and did not fall through the cracks and provided Mantwa with ongoing trauma debriefing and counselling,” says Moses.

Mantwa’s trial dragged on for over 16 months due to delaying tactics from the defence and intimidation and threats against the witnesses. But with continuous support from LvA, the man who thought he was untouchable was sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2019.

Apart from directly supporting victims, LvA also carries out community workshops, outreach programmes and school interventions throughout Diepsloot.

*LvA is located at Buffalo Street, Ext 2, Diepsloot. Call 072 031 1840 or email info@lva.org.za.