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Category Archive: Coronavirus

Tackling gender-based violence – the “second pandemic”

President Ramaphosa extends Alert Level 3 and announces new measures to combat “second pandemic” of GBV and femicide

The President’s speech on 11 January, coming just two weeks after he announced a return to Alert Level 3, albeit “adjusted”, harboured few surprises. Some might have hoped for an end to the alcohol ban, but it was highly unlikely. While there is no correlation between consumption of alcohol and transmission of COVID-19 (other than perhaps disinhibition leading to failure to keep one’s distance from others), the point behind the ban is to reduce instances of alcohol-related trauma filling up hospitals. And it has done this. Our public health system is fragile at the best of times. It is under tremendous strain from COVID-19 and the current wave of infections. If we can remove one source of pressure on our hospitals and health care workers it may mean lives are saved. So while we may grumble about the curfew and the booze ban, they are there for a reason. 

Other restrictions of the adjusted Alert Level 3

The evening curfew was unchanged at 21.00, but brought forward in the morning to end at 05.00, presumably to facilitate commuters as the nation returns to work after the festive season. Other measures introduced include land border closures, to stem the waves of people returning to South Africa after visiting relations in neighbouring countries over the holidays. The congestion at border crossings is a concern in terms of spreading the virus. Land ports of entry will be closed until 15 February. However, the following may return home: 

  • South African nationals
  • Permanent residents
  • Persons with a long-term residence visa
  • Spouses with a visa 
  • Children with visas
  • Persons with a work visa
  • Holders of a business visa

There are other exceptions able to cross the border, too numerous to list here. For full details see the Disaster Management Act Amendment of Regulations.

Gender-based violence – the “second pandemic”

At SD Law we’ve campaigned actively against gender-based violence, including coercive control and emotional abuse. The rate of rape, femicide and domestic violence in South Africa is shameful. Therefore, we welcome measures announced by the President to curb this “second pandemic”.

Civil society has long been working tirelessly to combat gender-based violence, but it’s clear that more needs to be done and a concerted effort by Government is necessary. Taxi drivers and taxi marshals are to be sensitised on gender awareness, gender norms, toxic masculinity and GBV, with the aim of changing behaviour. Faith-based organisations are working together to sensitise religious leaders on patriarchy and GBV. This is essential as our institutions are the guardians and perpetrators of patriarchal and misogynistic norms, reinforcing discriminatory and oppressive treatment of women and girls. Men feel validated in their gender primacy when it is upheld and even encouraged by church and community leaders. These leaders are to be trained to accompany survivors of GBV, from reporting the crime to linkage to care and through the court process.

We would argue that more needs to done in schools, sports clubs, and other places where boys and young men convene. Toxic masculinity begins in boyhood. We must tackle adult male behaviour but we mustn’t wait for the current generation of boys to grow up before we engage with them. We also need to socialise girls to not accept, tolerate or expect certain types of behaviours from boys and men. However, we welcome these initiatives and encourage our government to go further still.

Women’s economic empowerment is to be prioritised, including training for business women so they can access public procurement opportunities. Finally, South Africa is ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention 190, which sets out a global standard for the protection of women at work.

Shining a spotlight on inequality

South Africa is a nation of huge inequality. This is not news. But here and around the world, COVID-19 has highlighted just how extreme systemic socio-economic inequalities are. From access to health care to green spaces to the digital divide to employment, poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable people have fared much worse in the pandemic. Women and migrants are among the worst affected.

As we see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of the vaccination programme, our wish for South Africa is that we emerge from this pandemic with greater awareness of the glaring inequality that divides our country, and a renewed commitment to building a fairer, more equitable society for all. President Ramaphosa asked us to act with a common purpose to defeat the virus and rebuild our lives and our nation. However, we believe that recovery means more than this. We have an opportunity to “build back better”. We must seize it.

If you’ve been affected by GBV or any of the issues in this article

SD Law is a Cape Town law firm with deep experience of helping women escape abusive men and find peace in a new life. We will connect you to relevant support services and make sure you and your children are safe. At SD Law, we understand how deeply distressing gender-based violence can be, and we will handle your case with discretion, empathy and compassion. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za for a confidential discussion. 

Further reading:

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COVID-19 In South Africa: Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

We have covered the COVID-19 pandemic, as it relates to South Africa and the issues that concern South Africans, since the lockdown was first announced on March 27th. We have reported on gender-based violence, the alcohol ban, evictions, and the overall impact on economic prosperity. This report from UNDP on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 provides a high-level analysis of what we can expect, as we slowly recover.

Reprinted from reliefweb.int, prepared by the United Nations Development Programme – 2020-08-24

socio-economic impact of covid-19 on south africaSouth Africa is the country with the fifth-highest number of cases COVID-19 in the world, and the highest number of cases on the African continent. © UNDP Africa/ Morris Moma

South Africa’s GDP will take at least five years to recover from COVID-19 impact, says UNDP study

Pretoria, 24 August 2020 – South Africa’s overall GDP is expected to decline by at least 5.1 and up to 7.9 percent in 2020 and recover slowly through 2024. This will lead to major setbacks in addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality, according to a new UNDP study on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in South Africa.

The study focuses on how COVID-19 will drive temporary and long-term changes in poverty levels in South Africa. The number of households below the poverty line increases as households fall from the lower middle class. Fifty-four percent of households that have been pushed out of permanent jobs to informal or temporary contracts as a coping mechanism for businesses affected by COVID-19, are likely to fall into poverty after the 6-months stimulus package is over. Thirty-four percent of households are likely to exit the middle class into vulnerability.

“Inequalities within and among nations are being exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19, as the poor and vulnerable are unable to protect themselves,” said UN Resident Coordinator Nardos Bekele-Tomas. “While Government social protection grants tend to target the poorest, this study posits that care and support needs to be provided to those at the borderline of the poverty line, such as the vulnerable middle class, to reduce their likelihood of slipping into poverty.”

Populations hit especially hard are already-impoverished female-headed households, persons with only primary education, persons without social assistance, black populations, and heads of households who have been pushed from permanent to informal employment.

The launch of “The Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of COVID-19 in South Africa” report brought together representatives from government, civil society, private sector and academia. South Africa’s Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Dlamini-Zuma urged that the study should find its way into every district and municipality. She called for a skills revolution complemented by the adoption of a technology strategy and the delivery of a district developing model by promoting gender-responsive budgeting.

The personal testimony of Khumbulile Thabethe, a single parent with three children, was a stark reminder of how the virus impact hits hardest on the most vulnerable ones. “I’ve had to prioritize food over winter clothing for my three kids. Lockdown started in the warmer months and as we moved to the colder months, I could not cope,” she told the audience.

South Africa is the country with the fifth-highest number of cases COVID-19 in the world, and the highest number of cases on the African continent. The study further observes that economic sectors most disadvantaged by the COVID-19 outbreak include textiles, education services, catering and accommodations (including tourism), beverages, tobacco, glass products, and footwear. Small and medium enterprises are most negatively impacted.

Further reading:

Life: Working, pivoting and surviving under lockdown in SA

‘Calamitous’: domestic violence set to soar by 20% during global lockdown

Lockdown is hard on everyone

Women’s Day in a time of COVID-19

Ignoring effects of Covid-19 on women could cost $5tn, warns Melinda Gates

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Ignoring effects of Covid-19 on women could cost $5tn, warns Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates speaks out about the need for leaders to take into account the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women, as we face the long, slow task of recovery.

Reprinted from the Guardian, by Melinda Gates – 2020-07-15

‘We get recovery if we get equality’ philanthropist argues in new paper urging policymakers to address unpaid labour.

Effects of COVID-19 on women
Guarani women and children in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. Gates said inclusion of women from diverse backgrounds is key to fundamental change. Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

The failure of leaders to take into account the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women, and their roles in lessening its harm, will mean a long, slow recovery that could cost the world economy trillions of dollars, Melinda Gates has warned.

Even a four-year delay in programmes that promote gender equality, such as advancing women’s digital and financial inclusion, would wipe a potential $5tn (£4tn) from global GDP by 2030.

“As policymakers work to protect and rebuild economies, their response must account for the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women, and the unique roles women will have to play in mitigating the pandemic’s harm,” Gates said in a paper published on Wednesday.

Globally, a two-hour increase in women’s unpaid care work corresponds with a 10 percentage point decrease in women’s ability to participate in the labour force, she said.

“I think, finally, for the first time, this unpaid labour, which has been one of the biggest cracks in society that no one wants to look at, is in everybody’s face right now.

“World leaders have kids at home right now. World leaders are seeing their wives have to drop out of the workforce or take care of an elderly parent. So I think leaders are waking up to this, and what I think you’re going to see is the coalition of leaders who say: ‘This is how we’re going to get recovery – we’re going to get recovery if we start to get equality,’” she said.

Gates’ paper, published in Foreign Affairs magazine prior to the G20 meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors at the weekend, looks at the toll the pandemic is taking on women and calls on policymakers to “use this emergency as an opportunity to replace old systems with new and better ones”.

As well as addressing unpaid care, Gates called for women’s jobs to be protected, for health systems to be strengthened, and for sexual and reproductive healthcare to be considered an essential service.

Key to any fundamental change, Gates said, will be the inclusion of women from diverse backgrounds in decision-making. Grassroots organisations also have a “fundamental” role to play, she said.

But Gates warned: “We have to keep this on the forefront of the agenda. That’s exactly why I wrote this paper. If we don’t look at the health systems, the economic systems and how we can build back, if we don’t look at the data or the female leadership or use those women’s collectives, we’re not going to build back in a better way. We’re going to have a very, very long slow recovery across the globe.”

Further reading:

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Forget Gareth Cliff, a constitutional law expert shares views on alcohol ban, curfew

Whatever your views on the alcohol ban and curfew, this is the opinion on the potential constitutionality or otherwise of the latest lockdown regulations. It is unfortunate that the irresponsible actions of a minority have deprived the majority of South Africans, who have maturely observed the rules and patiently waited for each small concession, of yet more of our freedom. But we are curious as to whatever happened to the original high court judgment declaring the lockdown regulations unconstitutional.

Reprinted from iol.com, by Sihle Mlambo – 2020-07-14

Alcohol traders remain closed after the government announced on Sunday night that the alcohol ban would be reinstated.     Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Alcohol traders remain closed after the government announced on Sunday night that the alcohol ban would be reinstated. Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of an immediate ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol sent social media into a tailspin on Sunday night, with outraged citizens bemoaning that they had not been given notice to stock up ahead of the ban.

In enforcing the ban, Ramaphosa scolded South Africans who have been hosting parties, contravening lockdown regulations and contributing to the spread of the coronavirus which has now killed over 4 100 people and infected over 280 000 people since March.

On Tuesday controversial media personality Gareth Cliff added his voice to the mix, describing government’s decision to ban the sale of alcohol and instituting a curfew between 9pm and 4am as “bullsh**”.

“He goes on TV this president, willy-nilly and makes rules. He sits with his national coronavirus command council and they go ‘ah I think we need to ban alcohol’ and they decide among themselves and that’s it.

“Then he says there is a curfew and you can’t visit your family. Bullsh**. You do not get to decide for free people in a free country whether they can see their mother or father, brother or sister or their children, you don’t get to do that.

“And any government that tries to do that, even if they say it’s for health reasons, it’s a tyrannical state that is trying to control your behaviour,” said Cliff.

We asked constitutional law expert Professor Pierre De Vos to comment on Cliff’s rant, and he declined, describing him as irrelevant and his rant as ridiculous.

Writing on his blog, Constitutionally Speaking, De Vos shared his views on the rationality of the contentious decisions taken by the Ramaphosa administration on Sunday.

He was sharing his opinion based on how he felt the courts would rule on the matters if the ban on the sale of alcohol or the curfew faced a legal challenge.

ALCOHOL

On the alcohol ban, De Vos said based on the rising Covid-19 cases and the increasing number of people being admitted to hospital, it was likely a rational decision in the eyes of the court.

He argued, however, that the decision to stop the sale of alcohol during level 5 of the lockdown – when cases were low – could be invalid and also contributed to the backlash the government was now facing from the public.

“Arguably, the ban on the sale of liquor during level 5 lockdown when confirmed cases were low and hospitals were close to empty, was not necessary to deal with the destructive effects of Covid-19 and may have been invalid.

“The level 5 ban may also have been a strategic mistake as it may have contributed to the public hardening of attitudes towards the lockdown, thus turning a public health emergency into a matter of law and order in the eyes of the public. But given the general deference shown by our courts to lockdown regulations, it is not clear that the courts would have invalidated the ban,” said De Vos.

De Vos said it would be difficult to argue against the alcohol ban.

“It would be difficult to argue that the ban on the sale of liquor is not necessary to deal with the destructive effects of Covid-19.

“The ban is clearly authorised by the Disaster Management Act and as long as it is rationally related to the purpose of the declaration of the disaster, it will be valid. I would be surprised if a court found that there was no rational connection between the ban and the aim of freeing up hospital beds better to deal with the medical consequences of Covid-19,” he said.

CURFEW 

De Vos said due to the dire situation in which the country found itself, it would be difficult to argue against the need for a curfew as it curtailed those who hosted parties from doing so.

“I will assume the purpose of the curfew is to stop socialisation of people at night (as such socialisation will allow the virus to spread faster), and additionally to make it easier for the police to enforce the other lockdown regulations.

“The former is an important and pressing purpose while the latter is not. This must be weighed up against the impact that the imposition of the curfew will have on members of the public. Clearly, a curfew radically curtails an individual’s freedom of movement and would only be justified in extreme cases.

“The state would have to show that other measures that are less invasive of citizen’s rights are not available to achieve the purpose. I am not sure they will be able to do so, but, once again, given the deferential attitude of most courts towards the government imposed lockdown restrictions, I am not as confident as I would normally be that a challenge to the curfew would be successful,” he said.

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Give responsibly – make sure your food parcels reach those in need

Various organisations will make sure your food donation reaches the people in need

As we contend with rising incidence of COVID-19 in South Africa (though still thankfully much lower than our European and North and South American counterparts) and the restrictions of lockdown, World Hunger Day, which took place on 28 May, has passed us by, more or less unnoticed. Yet COVID-19 – or rather, the economic fall-out from lockdown – is causing hunger in South Africa on an unprecedented scale. Many people want to do what they can, despite their own challenges, to help those most in need. How can you give responsibly?

Because we have a history of corruption in this country, it can be tempting to bypass the intermediaries and give food directly to those who need it. Some people are doing just that – cooking and taking hot meals to the homeless. While their intentions are laudable and there is no doubt their hearts are in the right place, we would encourage you rather to contribute to organised efforts and give responsibly.

Why donate through a relief organisation?

Channelling your philanthropic activities through an authorised relief organisation has multiple benefits. Firstly, they are taking proper infection control precautions. This not only protects the recipients; it protects you and your household. Secondly, they are working with community leaders to ensure food is distributed to those truly in need. And they are putting together food parcels designed to give a family not only enough food for a given period, but a sufficiently nutritious and balanced diet. Pap alone may be filling but does not provide adequate nutrients.

Where can you give responsibly?

Many relief organisations are well placed to put together the food parcels, and need funds rather than food. Others welcome groceries and other items. You should be able to find an organisation near you that will welcome the type of help you want to offer. 

Many Woolworth’s stores have set up a facility to allow customers to purchase extra non-perishable goods and place the items in a collection trolley on their way out of the store. This is a particularly nice way to help, if you can’t afford to do much but want to do something. A few tins of beans or carton of UHT milk added to your weekly shop won’t make your grocery bill unmanageable.  

Thanks to Eyewitness News for providing the following information. These organisations connect donors to local food relief groups around the country:

FoodForwardSA
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– Donate here.

The Angel Network
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– You can donate via their website.

CoronaCare for South Africa
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info on how to donate here.

Islamic Relief
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info can be found on their website.

Ladles of Love
– Area: Cape Town
– Donations needed: monetary, loaves of peanut butter and jam sandwiches
– More info: You can donate via PayFast or contact them on 076 064 3694.

These organisations are local to the Western Cape:

The Sprightly Seed
– Areas: Lavender Hill, Nyanga East, Mfuleni, Kalkfontein and Mitchell’s Plain
– Distributing food and hygiene packs to 450 families
– Donations needed: monetary
– For more info, go their givengain account.

The Mahabbah Foundation
– Areas: throughout Cape Town where help is needed
– Distributing 2000 loaves of bread with jam daily
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info: 082 468 7484

Ramzi’s Food
– Areas: throughout the Cape Flats and Brooklyn
– Catering company transformed into a community kitchen feeding over 1000 people daily
– Donations needed: monetary and groceries
– More info: 072 387 8622

Noordhoek Group:
– Areas: collecting for Masiphumelele families
– Boiled eggs and sandwiches can be dropped off at The Foodbarn Deli at the Farm Village (Noordhoek) on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Kensington Neighbourhood Watch
– Areas: Kensington and Factreton
– Distributing food and hygiene packs to households
– Donations needed: monetary, food and sanitary items
– More info: 060 991 1425

Warriors of Hope
– Areas: Bonteheuwel
– Distributing hot food to households
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info, go to their Facebook account.

Restaurant Foliage
– Areas: Franschhoek and surrounds
– Restaurant turned into a community kitchen providing hot meals daily
– Donations needed: monetary and groceries
– More info: You can donate on the Isabelo website.

Nakhlistan
– Areas: throughout Cape Town
– Distributing hot meals daily
– Donations needed: monetary
– Find more info on their Facebook page.

Share your information with us

If you know of other organisations, restaurants or grocery retailers helping to feed the hungry during this period, let us know and we will update this article. Let’s all give responsibly!

Furthermore, with winter upon us in full force, please share any information about where to donate blankets and warm clothing. You can contact Simon at SD Law on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za

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Covid-19 has gifted us a chance to end gender-based violence. We must take it

If the world can unite to beat coronavirus, it should apply the same energy to rooting out abuse

Reprinted from the Guardian 2020-05-30. By Graça Machel.

Millions of women and children are fighting for survival from abusers in the prisons of their homes.
 Millions of women and children are fighting for survival from abusers in the prisons of their homes. Photograph: Patrick Baz/Abaad/AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic is gifting us an unprecedented opportunity to take innovative action and comprehensively confront the scourge of violence against women.

We have a unique window in which, as a human family, we are able to boldly address the social ills Covid-19 is unearthing, and redesign and rebuild our social fabric.

In this process of self-examination, we must work to root out the global epidemic of gender-based violence as aggressively as we are tackling the pandemic itself.

The lockdowns expose what many of us have always known – our most intimate spaces, our homes, are not always safe places. Research by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) predicts that there will be at least 15 million more cases of domestic violence around the world in 2020 for every three months that lockdowns are extended.

A “pandemic within a pandemic” has been exposed and we are confronted with the horrific reality that millions of women and children – in every country – are fighting for their survival not from Covid-19 but from the brutalities of abusers in the prisons of their homes.

Studies indicate domestic violence has increased by upwards of 25% in numerous countries as a result of shelter-in-place measures.

Abuse survivors are facing limited access to protective services during periods of quarantine. It is no secret that pandemic restrictions have negative ramifications for adults and children already living with someone who is abusive or controlling, and access to support services are significantly constrained.

Most unfortunate is while the need for survivor support is increasing, justice is proving hard to access. Resources are being diverted away from judicial systems towards more immediate public health measures. In every country, hotlines, crisis centres, shelters, as well as critical legal aid and social services, are being scaled back due to infection control measures. Many courts have closed their doors.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” the saying goes. And Covid-19 just may be the midwife we need to help birth a flattening of the gender-based violence curve. We have an opportunity here for criminal justice systems to be completely overhauled to fight gender-based violence.

Countries need to fund innovations promoting remote judicial services, invest in specialised protection services, work with the private sector and create more channels for accessing justice, such as by collaborating with community-based paralegals and non-lawyer legal assistance initiatives. The time is ripe to address the lack of sensitivity in police and court proceedings as well as rehabilitative support for offenders and survivors. We need to support justice leaders by creating a virtual forum for ministers to share best practice and highlight urgency.

There are many impressive practical initiatives taking steps to lessen the dangers women face at the hands of their abusers. Countries such as Spain and France have created emergency warning systems in supermarkets and pharmacies to offer counselling and help with reporting. Canada is keeping shelters open and earmarking resources in its relief bill, categorising them as essential services. Out of a necessity for more shelters, 20,000 hotel rooms for survivors will be paid for in France. Police in Odisha, India, have implemented a phone-up programme, where officers check up on women who previously filed reports of domestic violence before the lockdown. These innovative approaches need to go beyond the confines of borders, be adapted for local contexts and replicated at scale globally.

The innovation and resilience of grassroots justice groups continues to give me hope in these dark times. They too are on the frontlines, leading rights awareness campaigns, adapting to deliver legal advice remotely and ensuring disadvantaged groups are not overlooked.

Social media is another powerful weapon at our disposal. Bold advocacy and awareness campaigns should become a common feature on our TV and phone screens.

We have been presented with the opportunity to reimagine and redesign our societies to be safe, vibrant and equitable. We are proving that we can come together as a united human family to holistically tackle Covid-19; let us apply an equally comprehensive, vigorous and unrelenting focus to eradicating gender-based violence as well.

  • Graça Machel is the deputy chair of global human rights organisation The Elders, founder of the Graça Machel Trust, and an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights

Don’t suffer in silence

SD Law is a firm of family lawyers deeply committed to the fight against gender-based / domestic violence. If you are affected by these issues, either directly or indirectly, contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za today. We can assist with a protection order and help remove you to a place of safety. We now offer online consultations. We’ll call you back, to schedule a meeting at a time that suits you, on the platform of your choosing.

Important contact numbers:

GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / *120*7867# from any cell phone
Persons with disabilities, SMS ‘help’ to 31531
Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150
Childline: 0800 055 555
SAPS Crime Stop: 0860 10111 / SMS Crime Line: 32211
GBVF-related service complaints (SAPS): 0800 333 177/
complaintsnodalpoint@saps.gov.za
National AIDS Helpline: 0800 012 322
National Human Trafficking Helpline: 0800 222 777
Suicide Helpline: 0800 567 567
Coronavirus Hotline: 0800 029 999

Further reading:

‘Calamitous’ domestic violence set to soar by 20% during lockdown

Alcohol fuels gender-based violence

Locked down with an abuser?

 

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Life: Working, pivoting and surviving under lockdown in SA

Reprinted from the Daily Maverick. By Alan Van Gysen, 27 May 2020

We thought this article was worth sharing. Nine weeks ago, we said, “we’re all in this together”. As the lockdown has unfolded, it has become clear that nothing could be further from the truth. This article highlights the plight of some Western Cape residents.

‘As police, we meet people who have the virus, we’re at risk’

Sergeant Leon Fortuin, Zeekoevlei – Ocean View SAPS

Police and other law enforcement personnel, along with healthcare workers, are at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 on the frontline of the battle against this virus.

Standing outside “die blokke”, council flats in Ocean View in Cape Town’s deep south, Sergeant Leon Fortuin reflects on the “new normal” while giving Department of Health workers a hand and talking to residents about recent crimes in the area, including the theft of a bicycle at gunpoint that morning, as well as yet another shooting the day before.

“After seven weeks of lockdown, it is interesting to see how the three different communities that fall under Ocean View station have reacted to the restrictions. When we encountered some community members in Kommetjie, they were just worried about when they could go surfing again… they just wanted to be on the beach,” said Fortuin.

“In Ocean View, residents just wanted to know when they could buy cigarettes and alcohol again. And Masi… oh man, it’s like there has hardly ever been a lockdown there. The people are just up and down the roads all the time, so we’ve had to issue them a lot of fines, and that caused some conflict because they wanted to know why must they be confined to their homes. From their point of view, they live in a shack and you cannot have social distancing when three or four people are confined to such a small place.

“The real risk from a SAPS perspective, though, is seeing the number of Covid-19 (cases) rapidly increasing in Cape Town, and people, in general, being affected by the coronavirus. We’ve been working with the department of health, going through Ocean View and Masiphumelele, and assisting with the screening of residents.

“We’re trying to test as many as possible. Not many have gone for tests, but there have been some, and we are seeing more and more positive cases. Obviously, because we are meeting people who have the virus, we’re also at risk of exposure. I myself have gone for a test two weeks ago and it came back negative, so that’s good. No one at this station has contracted it yet, but two weeks ago a member of ours came into contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus, so we had to temporarily close the station for a few days so a specialised company could come in and spray the station,” said Fortuin.

“A normal Covid-19 day for us now, over and above our normal duties, includes our special briefing in the morning, then meeting and assisting the health department between 08:30 and 12:30 with door-to-door screenings, assisting people with permits… there are so many people wanting to cross provincial boundaries to the Eastern Cape for funerals. We have to do more roadblocks to check permits, and we need to search more premises. We confiscate a lot of cigarettes from spaza shops, which comes with a R1,000 fine.

“We’ve also had to assist law enforcement from the City of Cape Town and the Sheriff from Simons Town with evictions from flats where residents have not paid their rent for some years. I believe there was an instruction from government to ask landlords to please bear with their tenants during this difficult time, and to not evict people from their homes. I also have a place I am renting out and tenants couldn’t pay me, but ja… it’s one of those things and I understood their concerns and challenges, so I told them, it’s fine for now – we’re all going through hard times and they must just pay me what they can, when they can. It’s tough doing this kind of work, because as a person you really do feel compassion for people.”

‘I saw two trucks coming up through Ocean View, law enforcement vehicles, and I just knew’

Ocean View resident Bernie Rossouw stands in defiance outside her informal home which she shares with her three children and pets after she was evicted unlawfully by The City of Cape Town during Covid-19 lockdown level 4. (Photo: Alan van Gysen)

Bernadette “Bernie” Rossouw, 35, Ocean View – evicted resident 

Above Ocean View lies a piece of undeveloped land on which numerous shacks have been erected over the past 16 years. The land was donated to the people of Ocean View for housing development by way of a trust, but after years of inactivity and no public participation on further plans for the land, the City of Cape Town arrived to evict people on 15 May. Among them were Bernie Rossouw and her three children.

“I have been living here since January after my third eviction left me homeless, but people have been occupying this land for years. The development trust covers 15.4 hectares of land and originally there were some plots available for R800 in Beverly Hills and R300 in Atlantic Heights, but those are all gone and Ocean View is as overcrowded as ever. People are living like sardines in a tin,” said Rossouw.

“The trustees are supposed to be the custodians of the land, but now they are trying to sell the land for R8-million to a private investor who apparently will subdivide the remaining land into properties to be sold for R1-million each. Who can afford that here in Ocean View? This land is supposed to be for low-cost housing. After hearing this, I occupied the land. I was born and raised in Ocean View. I fail to understand how this land is for sale and why our evictions are happening.

“A 78-year-old man and his wife live just down from me. Luckily they were home, so law enforcement couldn’t destroy their home and remove them. But the rest of us weren’t so lucky. If you aren’t occupying your home, they can tear it down and remove what they can. I saw two trucks coming up through Ocean View, law enforcement vehicles, and I just knew.

“I’ve experienced this too many times. I went down to them, tried to get a name or something, but they wouldn’t tell me anything. They didn’t have badges, I couldn’t see who they were because of their Covid-19 masks, and they had no form of documentation. They just told me to get out of the way and please leave the mountain because I was obstructing their duties. After that I stood at my door with my two-year-old in my arms and watched as they proceeded to take crowbars to our belongings and any unoccupied structure.

“My family is so traumatised. I stay here with my three youngest children. My eldest daughter ran away after my first eviction. That was brutal. Law enforcement held her down and pepper-sprayed her. I was at work and she was here alone. She is so traumatised that she won’t come back here. I don’t have anywhere else to go. Where must I go? I’m born and bred in Ocean View.

“If this land was just developed, I would buy an erf. I’m the chairperson of the Ocean View Backyard Dwellers and I can tell you that Ocean View has too many backyard dwellers… way too many. It’s just not on. I’m not leaving this place. I don’t have anywhere else to go. I’ve been on the City of Cape Town’s database for housing for about 16 years now – on the system, including the trust – but they have failed me and my children.

“Look at how I am living with my kids. My roof leaks. When it rains, I can’t sleep on my bed with my two-year old… this is me! The City is taking no ownership for what they are doing and not doing. I’m a South African citizen and we have a right to housing.

“It’s all the more difficult with Covid-19. There is no water here. How can I wash my hands? There are mornings when I can’t even brush my teeth or clean my daughter’s potty because I don’t have water. There are bigger struggles and issues in my life than worrying about catching Covid-19, to be honest. I am a single mother with no help. I work at a call centre in town.

“With Covid-19, I haven’t been able to work because schools and creches are closed, and I have nowhere to send my children. I don’t have parents – they died – so what do I do? I just want to live. I just want to provide a roof over my children’s heads, and a safe environment for them to grow up.”

‘All the guys on the boats are tested before going to sea’

Charter Skipper Grant Scholtz helps unload yellow-fin tuna after three days at sea with commercial fisherman in Hout Bay to earn some income after his tourism-based business dried up under Covid-19 Lockdown. (Photo: Alan van Gysen)

Grant Scholtz, 58, Newlands – charter boat skipper turned commercial fisherman

After three days and nights at sea, the tired and dishevelled crew of the Albatross make quick work of offloading their catch on the unusually quiet dock in Hout Bay harbour. The tuna are heavy, and it takes the collective effort of Grant Scholtz and five other crew to move, weigh and pack the fish into cold storage to be transported. This isn’t Scholtz’s regular work. Like many others around South Africa, he has had to get creative and find new ways to earn an income, and also help others where he can during the lockdown.

“I normally run fishing charters out of Hout Bay. Corporate and individual clients.  Heading 40-50 nautical miles out to sea is very expensive, but we have clients who come six or seven times a year when the fish are here. This is actually one of the best times of year. This is when we usually have the big tuna competitions. Once lockdown happened, the bookings just dried up completely. Come the end of winter, I’m sure you’ll see many boats for sale. To survive and feed our families, some of the charter guys have found work on the commercial fishing boats,” said Scholtz.

“Due to the confined space, contracting the coronavirus is a risk, but all the guys on the boats are tested before going to sea. There was actually a suspected case just the other day. Someone was showing symptoms and the NSRI had to be dispatched to bring the vessel in, and everyone was quarantined. Fortunately, the tests came back negative, but it was good seeing people take it seriously and that there is a protocol in place.

“The fish we’re catching at the moment are yellowfin and longfin tuna. Longfin especially, as it can be frozen for canning. The yellowfin we don’t catch too much of, as the sushi market has dried up both locally with the closure of restaurants, and internationally for export because they can’t fly it out. With the lockdown restrictions in place, buyers have had to shift their business to local home deliveries just to stay alive and keep their staff supported. But it’s a completely different service and product. These businesses were set up for volume. Instead, they have had to change their model, train their staff to process and cut smaller quantities without waste, and move smaller boxes on the road. At the end of the day, guys are fishing and selling just to keep the wheels turning for everyone involved, from crew to staff.

“All the tuna caught out of Hout Bay is rod and reel or bamboo poles. No nets. When we find a shoal we take a couple of fish, not the entire shoal. This is sustainable fishing. If everyone was fishing with rod and reel, fish stocks globally would be healthier. Interestingly, our tuna industry is controlled by a global quota system, and not by any one government. We fall under the Atlantic Tuna Agreement. So they control and divide quotas up.

“It’s hard being out at sea for days on end. I come home now and I sleep for 24 hours. I’m not used to spending days out on the ocean. These ous who fish every single day are hard. A lot of the families who live in the local community work on, or are involved with, the commercial fishing boats. Some are skippers themselves and many are crew members. But not everyone can get on boats and, with the factories being closed due to lockdown, residents need to do something… so they catch fish off-the-books to feed their families. What else can they do? They’re caught between a rock and a hard place. I know what I would be doing if my back was against the wall like this,” said Scholtz.

‘I don’t think we will die from the virus, but we might die of hunger’

Hangberg resident Angelo Joseph talks community aid and subsistence fishing during the crisis of Covid-19. (Photo: Alan van Gysen)

Angelo Joseph, 43, Hangberg, Hout Bay – community elder and construction worker turned subsistence fisherman

Water laps against the concrete dolosse skirting Hout Bay harbour, where Angelo Joseph sits and describes life under lockdown. The 43-year-old father of two was born and raised in the fishing village of Hangberg, which creeps up the mountain slope behind him. He can trace his family lineage across generations of fishermen and families who have lived off this same stretch of sea.

“At the moment people are struggling. There is no work and there is no income to buy food and basics. Those that aren’t getting food parcels have to turn to the sea. That’s what they have been doing for generations. It’s all they know. They know how to take a line, go to the water, catch a fish and feed their family. We have been doing this more than ever since the lockdown,” said Joseph.

“Some people have boats to go out to sea and catch, but those who don’t walk over the mountain and catch from the shore. I believe a minister gave permission for fishing on Wednesdays, but what if a Wednesday is wild and stormy? Do we go fishing and run the risk of being lost to the sea? Look at this T-shirt I am wearing… six people gone! Three from Hangberg and three from Mountain Pleasant in the Overberg. They were my bras! Their boat took on water, the pontoons didn’t want to inflate, and their batteries were stuffed. Another boat came to help but… people panic. Everyone jumped onto that boat and both boats went down near the 12 Apostles. So, we can’t just fish on one specific day. Fortunately, no one has been monitoring this side. When it’s a lekker day everyone wants to catch fish, and there are kids down there swimming and divers in the water. The guys are catching Hotties (Hottentot), crayfish, perlemoen… whatever they can get to feed their families for the day. They can’t sell it because no one is coming out to buy fish.

“But the big-time poachers, they’re playing Russian roulette. The moment they step onto those boats they know the chances of coming back from the sea at night or in bad weather are slim. And they can be caught by the authorities. I see the cops chasing them all the time. In the last month, more than 200 people got arrested and their boats confiscated. Or the sea claims you like my bras here. It’s a ticking time bomb. When you run with heavy guys like that, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

“Some of these boat owners got three boats. I was doing some work the other day and I heard this oke moaning about where they can store 10 tons of fish because the industry is closed. That’s just one boat in one night! And there are 15 boats going out sometimes! It’s hectic. Now, put that into monetary figures… it’s millions. Why can’t that boat owner buy some food and give it to the more vulnerable people? None of them is doing that, so I don’t feel fuck-all for them. But I do feel for the fishermen who step onto those boats to try and make some money to feed their family.

“I don’t think we will die from the virus. We might die of hunger. We have to do what we can and what we know. We have to catch fish, whether it is legal or not,” he said.

‘The alcohol ban has had a critical knock-on effect in South Africa’

Winemaker and local businesswoman Trizanne Barnard checks on her 2020 vintage curently maturing shortly after the stringent restrictions on the wine industy were relaxed enough to allow export only under under Covid-19 Lockdown laws. (Photo: Alan van Gysen)

Trizanne Barnard, 41, Kommetjie – winemaker and local business owner

South Africa is famous for its wine, and the industry has long been a major contributor to the economy. According to SAWIS (SA Wine Industry Information and Systems), the industry brought in R36-billion last year and supports no fewer than 300,000 jobs. Trizanne Barnard is an award-winning winemaker, local businesswoman and mother of two. She spoke about the challenges facing her industry under the lockdown.

“When we entered lockdown it was extremely unclear within our industry what the laws and restrictions actually were, which was very concerning with 30% of our grapes still hanging. We were in the midst of harvest when lockdown was announced. At first, it appeared we weren’t allowed to finish the harvest due to the gathering of large picking teams. Fortunately we have two big bodies – Vinpro (a non-profit company which represents 2,500 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders) and Salba (South Africa Liquor Brand Association), who lobbied and got government to permit finishing the harvest,” said Barnard.

“The big thing for us, though, was that the on-trade and off-trade sales were banned, and in the beginning, exporting too. The wine industry employs 300,000 people and contributes 2% of South Africa’s GDP, so it’s quite a lot… and we don’t know how many jobs this could affect across the country. Vinpro continued to lobby government to allow exports as it made absolutely no sense to ban this in the first place. Government lifted the ban for one week in Level 5 which helped a lot, but then they closed things down again. Fortunately, once Level 4 came into effect, we were able to start exporting properly again, but as you know, local sales are still prohibited.

“This has such a critical knock-on effect in South Africa because the wine industry is completely intertwined with tourism, from restaurants to wine tourism, vineyard visits to wineries etc. There are just so many jobs affected. Fortunately for me personally, I haven’t been as hard hit as some because I export a lot of my wine, but there are others who rely solely on local trade, and they and their staff have been floored. It’s really sad to see how many wine farms are in distress and how many could be up for sale in the months to come.

“Regardless of what work we do, I think we all have to think a lot more creatively these days. I have had to rethink my e-commerce, how I communicate with my clients and even how to do my wine tastings virtually. It does have its upsides though, as we’re all connecting a lot more as a family. It is still a very concerning time though, and I worry a lot about the people around me. Friends and family, and those around in our communities… I wonder constantly if they are doing okay.”

‘There is no other way I can make money… all we can do is pray and wait’

Tavern owner Andre Manuel stands outside his locked premises in Masiphumelele, Cape Town, during Covid-19 Lockdown restriction rules. (Photo: Alan van Gysen)

Andre Manuel, 39, Masiphumelele – tavern owner 

Standing outside Happy Place tavern in a side street off the bustling main road of Masiphumelele, a few kilometres from Kommetjie and Ocean View, Andre Manuel helps his mother-in-law prepare the braai for the day – one of the only means of income for his family at present, while he talks about life as a local business owner, father and husband during this crisis.

“It’s difficult… it’s very difficult. And not just with business, but at home also. As a man you cannot just stay at home, and this is sometimes affecting our relationships with our wives also, you know. They are expecting that as husbands we will go out and come home with something – provide for the family. Now we’re not able to provide for anyone,” said Manuel.

“Other industries have been given a chance to open, but we don’t have this chance yet. We don’t even know when we will be able to open. Because we are in the Western Cape, we don’t know if we will be on Level 3 or stay on Level 4 and when we can trade… we just don’t know. And this is not only affecting me, it is also affecting my workers. I employ four people who work to provide for four other families. I’ve been able to help them with one month’s salary without work, but I cannot do it again. I just don’t have the money. And some of those people have been evicted because they could not pay rent… It’s terrible.

“Normally, when it’s not Covid-19 times, my licenced tavern is open 11:00 to 23:00. Not everyone who comes to the tavern comes to drink. Some come to enjoy sports on TV or to play pool. We receive many different types of people. You see, inside Masi, we are many different nations and peoples. Some, they want PSL soccer, but some, they want overseas matches. Some people don’t want to watch football at home alone. So they come here. Some buy cooldrinks. Some buy liquor. We try and cater for all our different people here.

“Right now, I am looking after seven people in my own family, including my in-laws who are old. I am financially responsible for seven. It’s embarrassing to admit, but my wife and her mother are having to help make us some money by selling braai meat on the street here – pork and chicken and things like that. But it’s not enough to keep us going, really. For you as a man, you are supposed to be a leader, to be strong. To back down and admit you cannot do your job is very painful. It hurts. I’m not able to do anything. My wife has to buy the electricity, and we don’t know when the water bill will come or if we can pay it. It’s a really big problem.

“Right now, there is no other way I can make money. It is difficult to travel, you cannot work on building sites, and you cannot find other work. And the police, they know I am a tavern owner so they drive past here many times a day. The bakkie that I use is well known by the police and people around here. I can do nothing. I cannot transport anything because I have been searched many times. They think maybe I am carrying liquor. I tried once to help an old lady who was sick to get to the hospital, and they stopped me and said I am not an ambulance and I cannot be doing this. So, there is no other way I can make money. Right now all we can do is pray and wait.” DM

How are you coping?

We know that many of our clients have been affected by the issues raised in this article. Because the impact of COVID-19 and the measures to contain it impact every sector and community in our country, there are few who haven’t experienced some consequences. If you have been wrongfully evicted, have suffered violence at the hands of a partner,  or are a tavern owner concerned about your liquor licence or needing assistance as a small business, contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za today. We now offer online consultations. We’ll call you back to schedule a meeting at a time that suits you, on the platform of your choosing.

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Lockdown level 4 – what now for evictions and moving house?

As lockdown restrictions ease, what does it mean for the rental market?

evictions - what happens under lockdown level 4

Lockdown level 4 – are evictions allowed? The easing of the rigorous lockdown rules that governed us for five weeks was met with rejoicing by most South Africans, particularly those with dogs and athletes who were missing their daily runs/cycle rides. More business categories are now deemed “essential” and some people have been able to return to work, albeit under very strict conditions. Most normal daily activities remain prohibited or restricted, but new rules were announced on 7 May, in Government Gazette 43293, allowing the movement of persons and goods under certain conditions. This includes moving house.

Let’s look at what you – whether you are tenant or landlord – can and can’t do under level 4.

Moving house during lockdown level 4 

As of 7 May, up until 7 June, you may move to a new property, provided the lease was signed before or during the lockdown period or the transfer of the property was completed before the lockdown. This includes movement across provincial borders. Furthermore, you may use public transport to effect the relocation, following all other directives that apply (e.g. wearing of masks). The precise wording of the directive is as follows:

2. The purpose of these Directions is to facilitate the movement of persons and goods within and across provincial, metropolitan or district boundaries during the period of Alert level 4.
(a) The movement of persons and goods, where –

(i) new lease agreements were entered into before or during the lockdown period: or
(ii) the transfer of immovable property occurred before the lockdown period, requires a change in place of residence. including the transport of goods to a new place of residence, within the Republic.

(b) The circumstances in subparagraph (a) require the once -off movement of persons who are relocating to their new place of residence, as permitted in terms of regulation 16(5): and
(c) The transport of goods within the Republic is permitted in terms of regulation
22(1)(f).

You must have a permit during lockdown level 4

If you qualify under these directions, you must secure a permit from your local police station, indicating the household members who are relocating. To obtain the permit, you must present your lease agreement or transfer documents, as detailed below. You must travel with all relevant documents in your possession.

3. (a) A person who needs to travel to his or her new place of residence and to transport goods, which are limited to household furniture and effects, as required by the circumstances in paragraph 2 of these Directions, is permitted to do so between the period 7 May 2020 to 7 June 2020.


UPDATE 15 May!! The cut-off date of 7 June has now been removed.


(b) A person referred to in subparagraph (a) must

(i) obtain a permit to travel across provincial, metropolitan or district boundaries from the station commander of a police station or a person designated by him or her The permit must correspond to Form 1 to these Directions;
This gazette is also available free online at www.gpwonline.co.za 4 No. 43293 GOVERNMENT GAZETTE, 7 MAY 2020
(ii) indicate the persons who are part of the household who will be required to move; and
(iii) have in his or her possession the relevant lease agreement indicating the date of expiry of the old lease and the date of commencement of the new lease, or the transfer documents attesting to the change in place of residence or change of ownership of property.

Rent during lockdown level 4

If the lease has expired, and the tenant is unable to relocate immediately, they must continue to pay rent, and the lease agreement becomes a month-to-month lease. However, if a tenant is having difficulty paying rent (whether the lease has expired or is ongoing), due to loss of income, TPN Credit Bureau has created a rental recovery pack, containing all the documents needed to negotiate a payment holiday and repayment plan with a landlord. Landlords placed in difficulty with bond payments due to loss of rental income should contact their lenders. Almost all South African banks have relief packages in place to help beleaguered borrowers.

What about evictions during lockdown level 4?

Here’s where there has been some movement. The moratorium on evictions introduced at the beginning of the lockdown (level 5, although we didn’t know that term then) remains. No one can be evicted from their home under level 4. However, an application for an eviction order may be brought before the courts, which are now able to hear cases and grant eviction orders. Sheriff services have resumed. The deeds office is open and consultations related to evictions will take place.  

Therefore, an attorney is permitted to prepare an order for eviction, which may be granted during level 4. However, the order is suspended and cannot be executed until the last day of level 4. At this point we do not know when that is. It is also important to pay close attention to the official information that accompanies the announcement of level 3. Although we currently understand that evictions will be lawful under level 3, we’ve seen already that the final regulations may vary considerably from the draft or anticipated rules. 

Be like a boy scout – be prepared

If you are a landlord with outstanding tenant issues, and you were intending to commence or had already commenced eviction proceedings prior to 27 March, now would be a good time to consult with a good eviction attorney and prepare your case. You will not be able to complete the process until such time as evictions are again permitted, but you will beat the rush that is sure to ensue when the ban is lifted. We anticipate the courts will be busier than usual, as many matters have been put on hold, so you could wait a while to have your case heard. If the grounds for eviction are non-payment of rent (prior to lockdown, not caused by it), then you will delay even further the time when you can legally replace your non-paying tenant with a paying one.

Don’t be in a hurry to evict good tenants

If your tenant has previously been fully compliant with the lease agreement and has always paid rent on time, but has defaulted on rent payments due to the lockdown, we urge you to take a more sympathetic stance. Allow the tenant time to negotiate a plan with you. You may even consider waiving a month’s rent, as many landlords have voluntarily done. As recession bites, rental yields will be subdued, even if demand for properties is present. If it takes a month or two to find a new tenant, that is lost income, and you may even find you have to drop the rent to attract tenants. Better to accept an equivalent loss of income from a good tenant than to expose yourself to the unknown.

The advice of an eviction lawyer is essential – for landlords and tenants alike

SD Law & Associates are specialists in rental housing and eviction law. If you are a landlord and need help navigating these uncharted waters, we can provide expert assistance. 

If you are a tenant and are worried about your current situation, we will look into your case and advise you of your rights and your best course of action.

Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 email simon@sdlaw.co.za.

Further reading:

 

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Security company helping the fight against domestic/gender-based violence

We’ve written a lot about the scourge of rape and gender-based violence (GBV) in our country. Sadly, we are seeing an increase in incidents during the national lockdown to combat COVID-19. One security company is fighting GBV. It has put in place a system to help its control centre evaluate the level of risk a client is facing and tailor the response accordingly. We’ve only heard of this one example; but it’s probable that there are others. We are keen to hear what your security company is doing. You can email us on simon@sdlaw.co.za

In this particular protocol, there are three levels of distress, with relevant actions for each level:

1. YELLOW

There is a history of incidents. Build-up is noticeable. Incidents are likely to recur. 

Client’s immediate requirement: Client would like more information on her options.

What the client should do: Send an email to [named support officer at the security company].

The security company will refer the case to a relevant expert with access to medical, social, psychological and forensic experts, helplines, and shelters (in severe cases).

2. PINK

Client feels threatened and wants to seek refuge.

Client’s immediate requirement: Client would like preventative assistance.

What the client should do: Call the [named security company] control centre on xxx xxx xxxx for immediate assistance. Or send a WhatsApp to xxx xxx xxxx.

3. PURPLE

Client is currently being attacked and needs urgent assistance.

Client’s immediate requirement: Client needs urgent support.

What the client should do: Activate the alarm system and use a false password, if possible, or send a WhatsApp to xxx xxx xxxx. SAPS will also be contacted and the necessary steps taken.

This won’t help everyone, but it may help someone 

We know that not all women who are at risk of violence in the home are clients of a security company. But many are. And this is a start. 

We urge other security companies and body corporates to adopt this method in recognising and responding to domestic violence. We also urge all entities who come into contact with women at risk to support women to come forward and report incidents of physical and emotional abuse to the police – when they are ready. Reports can be made any time after the incident; they do not have to be filed instantly, if a woman is not ready. Many women don’t report rape and assault because they fear they won’t be believed, or the process of reporting the attack will be more traumatic than the attack itself. Unfortunately sometimes the incredulity happens at official level.

The more security companies, neighbours and community groups stand up to gender-based violence, with tangible actions like those listed above, the more women will feel supported and will be encouraged to report these crimes. And the more these incidents are reported, the more the police will realise the true nature and extent of this blight on our society and take more decisive actions. Our conviction rate for rape and sexual assault is pitifully low. This needs to change. 

Spread the word

We encourage anyone reading this to speak to your security company and ask them to implement a similar protocol. We recommend that you share this in your community and on social media. It’s up to all of us to put a stop to violence against women.

We can help

If you have been affected by gender-based violence, either personally or because you are supporting a survivor, and you would like more information on how to secure a protection order or seek refuge, contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za for a discussion in complete confidence. We are family lawyers and the safety of you and your children or other loved ones is our first priority.

Useful contacts:

  • GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / *120*7867# from any cell phone
  • Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150
  • Childline: 0800 055 555
  • SAPS Crime Stop: 0860 10111 / SMS Crime Line: 32211
  • GBVF-related service complaints (SAPS): 0800 333 177/
  • Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust: 24-hour helpline: 021 447 9762

Video:

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We can help If you have been affected by gender-based violence, either personally or because you are supporting a survivor, and you would like more information on how to secure a protection order or seek refuge, contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za for a discussion in complete confidence. We are family lawyers and the safety of you and your children or other loved ones is our first priority. Useful contacts: GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / *120*7867# from any cell phone . . . . . #domesticviolenceawareness #abusedwomen #lockdowndiaries #lockdown #nomeansno #survivor #mutualaid #childabuseawareness #inlockdown #betheirvoice #parenting #metoomovement #couragetochange #isolationnation #selftrust #gbv #domesticviolence #affirmationchallenge #lockdown2020 #stayinghome #enditmovement #lockdownlife #love #abuseawareness #rapecrisis #stopabuse #discrimination #selfreflection #lockdownindia #consent

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Don’t get locked up during lockdown

Lockdown has led to high numbers of arrests. Here’s what to do if it happens to you.

Locked up during lockdown? know your rights

Locked up during lockdown? Lockdown has brought with it an increased number of arrests and incidents of police brutality. In the first three weeks of level 5 lockdown, more than 100 charges were laid against the police for abuses. Level 4 regulations are unclear and open to interpretation. For example, exercise is permitted but there are to be no “organised groups”. Among the cyclists we know, one interprets “organised group” to mean a club ride or organised event like a race. Another thinks any more than two cyclists constitutes a group. Who is right? No one knows, as our rules don’t define a group by numbers, such as five (Switzerland) or 10 (France). 

So it’s up to the police to decide who is breaking the law and who is not. In this climate of ambiguity, normally law-abiding citizens may find themselves on the wrong side of the law. What should you do if this happens to you and you are arrested? 

Lockdown lock-up – arrestees’ rights

Everyone arrested has certain rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Whether you feel you have been wrongfully arrested, for example due to a difference of interpretation of an opaque rule, or have been caught red-handed committing a crime, there is certain behaviour incumbent on the police making the arrest. You have the right to:

  • Be informed of your rights as well as the consequences of not remaining silent
  • Remain silent
  • Not be forced to make a confession that could be used against you
  • Be brought before a court within 48 hours or by the end of the first working day after the weekend (whichever comes last)
  • Be charged, or informed of the reason for continued detention, or released at the first court appearance
  • Be released if the interests of justice permit, subject to conditions, e.g. bail
  • Be informed of your right to institute bail proceedings

Make a note of how you are treated

Generally, the South African police force upholds the Constitution and acts within the law. Occasionally it does not. Unfortunately, at present our police are overreaching their authority and you may find your rights are breached. It is worthwhile making a note – mental or written if possible – of the following:

  • The precise events and conversations that occur between the representative of the law and yourself
  • The degree of force used in effecting the arrest
  • Whether a warrant was shown
  • Whether you were informed of your rights on arrest
  • Whether you were allowed to contact a bail attorney 

Most importantly, avoid inflaming the situation. It won’t help your case, no matter how aggrieved you may feel.

Lockdown lock-up – what to do if you are arrested unlawfully

Right now, because of the murkiness of the rules, it’s quite possible you will be arrested unlawfully, or feel that you have been. Keep calm and know your rights. 

  • First, try to make notes concerning everything that is happening to you. Ask for pen and paper if you don’t have writing materials with you
  • Second, remember that you are innocent until proven guilty and it is the state’s responsibility to prove your guilt
  • Third, contact your lawyer as soon as possible. You have a right to legal representation – have that vital cell number on speed dial for rapid response

In your written notes, record the following, as far as you are able:

  • Every conversation between you and the officer/s involved
  • Was a warrant shown?
  • Were you advised of your rights?
  • Were you advised about your rights to apply for bail and were you able to contact a bail attorney?
  • If force was used, describe this and try to evaluate whether the force used was excessive

If you have no writing materials and your request for pen and paper is turned down, do your best to make mental notes of these points and write a full account as soon as you are able.

Lockdown lock-up – what to do if you’re a victim of police brutality:

Force has been a hallmark of police activity during lockdown. The United Nations has said that South Africa is abusing the lockdown with gratuitous violence, “…using rubber bullets, tear gas, water bombs and whips, to enforce social distancing, especially in poor neighbourhoods”. This constitutes assault. If you are a victim of this, here are some steps you can take.

Step one: collect relevant information

If possible, obtain important information at the scene of the assault, such as: 

  • Names of the offending police officers
  • Names and contact details of any witnesses
  • Photographs of all your injuries

Step two: report the crime

Go to your nearest police station to report the assault and lay a criminal charge against the offending police officer. If possible, seek the assistance of a lawyer when opening the criminal charge. We can help you with this. 

Step three: see a doctor

The police officer at the police station should take you to a district surgeon, who will examine you and report on your injuries. The district surgeon should complete a J88 form, detailing your injuries. This form will be given to the police officer and will form part of your police docket.

If you are in police custody, you can request that a police officer take you to a district surgeon to be examined.

Step four: document the story 

Although you have reported the incident of assault to the police, it is important that you write down the entire incident for your own personal records. Be as specific as possible in detailing the assault and the injuries you sustained.

Other legal options:

Laying a charge against an offending police officer at the police station constitutes criminal proceedings. You may also institute a civil claim by opening an action for damages against the offending police officers and the Minister of Safety and Security. You will need to consult with a lawyer in order to begin these proceedings. Contact us for more information.

You can lodge a complaint with the Independent Complaints Directorate. Please go to www.ipid.gov.za/lodge_complaint/lodge_complaint.asp

Contact a good bail lawyer

SD Law & Associates are experts in criminal defence and bail applications. We are available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. Contact us on 086 099 5146. Save this number in your phone under “bail lawyer”. In the current climate, you never know when you might need it.

This post also appears on baillawyer.co.za

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