The Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP) strives to restore hope and confidence in the justice system through its intensive initiatives aimed at assisting survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and rape by providing them with psychosocial services.
Founded in Limpopo over 20 years ago, the TVEP operates in Tshilidzini and Donald Fraser hospitals under the Thulamela Local Municipality.
Its Acting Director Fhatuwani Manthada says the programme aims to instil a zero-tolerance attitude towards sexual assault, GBV and child abuse among Thohoyandou residents, given the fact that these cases are prevalent in the area.
He says in the past, crime statistics indicated that there were many rape cases in Thohoyandou, but the TVEP has made great strides in raising awareness and providing trauma counselling services to curb the scourge.
As the world will be observing the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children from 25 November to 10 December, Manthada says the programme is satisfied with the progress made with encouraging residents to understand their rights and report crimes.
“The TVEP receives between 80 and 100 victims of domestic violence every month, while 45 to 50 rape cases are reported monthly,” says Manthada.
The programme’s one-stop centres offer a wide range of services to victims, including access to legal assistance, protection of victims against perpetrators, court case monitoring, counselling and empowerment through skills development, thus giving the victims a fresh start.
Manthada states that the TVEP works closely with the South African Police Service, Department of Health and Department of Social Development to prevent secondary traumatisation of victims in the process of opening a case.
“In rape cases, healthcare workers and the police come to the TVEP centres to assist victims to open criminal cases against the perpetrators and also provide counselling services,” he says.
The TVEP accommodates victims for up to 14 days, however, the arrangement could be extended in cases that involve the whole family or children.
“We have empowerment unity that conducts public dialogues and educates people about their rights. We serve more than one million residents from Thohoyandou and surrounding areas. We have managed to restore hope and people now have trust in the criminal justice [system] through our relationship with the police,” he says.
The TVEP has also created employment for 44 people who serve in various departments such as finance, human resources and evaluation.
Despite receiving continuous funding of R90 000 quarterly from the Limpopo Department of Social Development, the TVEP was affected by COVID-19 as many funders pulled out, thus negatively affecting the organisation’s operational processes.
However, the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Response Fund, which was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with the International Women’s Forum of South Africa and social partners have assisted the programme.
The TVEP was among the first batch of the organisations, that fight against GBVF, to receive funding.
With the sum of R128 million that was raised through contributions by the private sector, multi-sectoral fund, the GBVF Fund will assist and support the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF.
The TVEP has been allocated R250 000 for the current year and will receive more funding for 2023.
Manthada says the funds have enabled the TVEP to reach out to more victims and keep the organisation running.
Murendeni Vhengani (26) is a survivor who was rescued by the TVEP from her abusive ex-boyfriend. She spent 46 months months at the centre, with her four-year-old daughter.
The centre assisted her to open charges against him and to file a protection order. He is still on trial.
“They welcomed me with warm hands after many years of suffering. I felt safe. I have regained my confidence,” she says.
The GBVF Fund chairperson, Dr Judy Dlamini, says funding for 108 organisations whose applications have been successful are being processed.
Information regarding the next round of applications will soon be available on the GBVF Fund website: https://gbvf.org.za/.
To reach out to TVEP, contact Manthada at 064 771 5264 or email: email@example.com.