Cape Town women’s shelters threatened with closure within weeks unless donors found

Saartjie Baartman Centre says it needs R300,000 within the next two weeks. St Anne’s Homes also has a cash crisis.
As the country marks the start of 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence (GBV), two Cape Town shelters for abused women may have to close down if they don’t secure funding soon.
The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Manenberg and St Anne’s Homes in Woodstock have made a public plea for emergency funding to keep their shelters’ doors open.
On Monday alone, director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre, Advocate Bernadine Bachar said she sent out at least 90 appeals to various funders. “I have to get R300,000 within the next two weeks or we are going to look at closing our doors,” said Bachar.
She said the Centre, which opened in 1999, only gets 29% of its funding from the Department of Social Development (DSD) which itself is currently facing “financial constraints”.
“It’s an ongoing battle. I spend an enormous amount of my time trying to raise funds. The funders themselves are tightening their belts and are unable to commit to [the amounts] they did in the past,” she said. Bachar said they also hosted smaller fundraisers like high teas. But these, she said, barely made a dent in the costs needed to run the organisation.
“The situation is dire. The number of GBV survivors increases every day. One would think that there would be some sort of priority. If the government is unable to bridge our 71% gap, then it should call the role players into the room that can,” said Bachar.
On 23 November, Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the country’s second-quarter crime statistics for 2022/2023. Between July and September 2022, 989 women were murdered and 1,277 were victims in attempted murder cases. Cases reported to the police also reveal that over 13,000 women were assaulted with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH).
A total of 558 children were killed between April and September 2022. Police investigated 294 attempted murder dockets involving children from July to September 2022 and 1,895 assault GBH cases.
In response to the crime stats, Bachar said these numbers did not accurately reflect what was happening on the ground because only a small percentage of women who experience violence against them report it. “However, the upward trend in the stats is something we are seeing at shelters,” she said.
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