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​Places of safety for victims of domestic violence and other abuse – green doors – will be opening in Orange Farm. There are already 34 sites across the province.
GREEN doors, a network of safe places where victims of violence can find refuge, will be rolled out in Orange Farm this year, to help stop the abuse of women and children.

Place of safety: IKhaya LeThembaPlace of safety: Ikhaya Lethemba in BraamfonteinThis plan was outlined by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane in her state of the province address on 20 February. She said the roll-out of these green door sites would be a key strategy for the province in the coming year; it formed part of her call in her maiden state of the province address for Gauteng to establish 50 of these centres of safety and victim empowerment.

“While progress has been made in reducing crime levels in Gauteng, the level of crime against women and children is unacceptably high,” she said in her speech on 20 February. “In the year ahead we will work with the police to reduce this scourge of our society.”

Opening the green door sites is meant to complement the work done by the centre for abused women and children, Ikhaya Lethemba, which is located in Braamfontein.

To date, 34 of these victim empowerment centres have been opened across Gauteng to shorten the distances that victims need to travel to get help. These safe houses are community-based centres with staff trained to help victims, and overnight accommodation facilities.

Trained safety promoters have containment kits to helps victims – these kits are essentially handbags filled with items needed in an emergency, such as soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, underwear and hairbrush.

Counselling and shelter
Victims are referred from the green door facilities in the morning after their arrival to the relevant service providers for medical assistance, counselling and shelter, among other things.

In this way, the green doors act as a safety net for women and children in immediate need of care and protection close to where they live. The Gauteng MEC for community safety, Faith Mazibuko, who opened 10 green doors in Hillbrow on 8 December 2011, said: “Green doors are a symbol of growth, regeneration and life; they represent places of safety for anyone in trouble.”

As part of increasing the scope of work at these centres of safety, Mokonyane laid out plans in her state of the province address. “This will include taking steps to improve conviction rates, improving forensics capacity, analysis of dockets, enhancing family justice support and providing support for the family violence, child protection and sexual offences units,” she said.

International partnerships have been and will continue to be facilitated to strengthen forensics capacity. Training and skills development will be improved, with a focus on laboratory technicians, forensics officers and forensic pathologists.

Docket analysis of priority crimes and crimes against women and children will also be stepped up to improve conviction rates. “To improve the effectiveness and integration of the criminal justice system, the criminal justice co-ordinating committee will provide strategic direction to the provincial joint operational intelligence structure, which is the operational arm.

“Systemic issues that hamper the ability of investigators to produce trial-ready dockets will be identified and addressed through the criminal justice co-ordinating committee,” she said.

This means that priority will be given to cases involving violence against women and children. “We will continue to support victims of abuse by rolling out further green door sites and ensuring the effective functioning of support facilities.”

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