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January 2021 edition

A safe space for abused victims

Written by Maselaelo Seshotli and Ursula Graaff

Service delivery

Victims of abuse now have a place to go to where they can feel welcomed and get help without any prejudice.

The first Green Door facilities in Gauteng were launched by the provincial Department of Community Safety late last year.

The facilities are run by members of the public in partnership with the department.

The Green Door concept was initiated by the then Premier of Gauteng, Nomvula Makonyane, who is now Minister of Water and Sanitation.

These centres are specifically designed for victims of domestic violence who live more than three kilometres away from a police station.

The service is operational on a 24-hour basis, but victims remain on the site for not more than six hours.

The Green Doors provide victims a safe place, counselling, advice on opening a case and taking action against their abusers, basic emotional support, basic care and a place to rest.

On arrival at the centre the victims are provided with toiletry packs, consisting of necessities such as toothbrush, soap and a facecloth.

They also use a facility for bathing and cleaning up before the police arrive to take them away.

These Green Door facilities are managed by an ambassador, who ensures that all the victims receive equal amounts of support and a place of comfort.

Green Door ambassadors are expected to have the following qualities: compassion, commitment, be available to assist the victims, have no criminal record as well as no recent trauma, involvement in rape, gender-based violence, sexual offences or domestic violence. They also need to have good people and interaction skills.

The Green Door ambassadors receive training on how to help victims deal with the situations they face.

The centres are open to neglected and abused male and female adults and children.

These centres work hand-in-hand with the police and Victim Empowerment Centres in communities, which provide counselling by qualified social workers.

A family member or a friend can report an abuse to the Green Door Centres on behalf of a victim of abuse.

Brown Lekekela, 32, is an ambassador of a Green Door centre in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg. He runs the centre from his backyard, which is secured with palisade fencing.

The area where the centre is located is usually patrolled by police who respond quickly when they are called.

The facility is a homely and comfortable set up, with a couch and a bed, and toys for kids who come to the centre.

Lekekela has always been involved in community structures. After he completed his matric in 2006, he worked as a volunteer at the Diepsloot Police Station, working with victims of crime.

“I enjoy doing this work because it’s something that is in me and something I am passionate about,” said Lekekela.

His main responsibility at the centre is to welcome or receive victims by comforting them and then taking further action with their permission.

The following are ideal sites for setting up Green Door centres:

  • Private and community spaces such as privately owned homes and churches.
  • High-rise buildings and block of flats.