The struggling NGO Rape Crisis, which laid off its entire staff last year in July because of severe funding cutbacks emanating from the global economic recession, welcomed a R1.3m cheque from Social Development Department yesterday (subs: Thursday).
The organisation director Kathleen Dey who was the only person that survived the retrenchment and kept steering the organisation on a skeleton budget said last year they had lost about four international funders because of the “crisis in the European economy”.
“The fact that South Africa is classified as a middle income country meant that they diverted their funds to poor African countries and in our own country government was also cutting back funding to organisations we have far less funds and no way of replacing them,” said Dey.
This is despite of the alarming figures of violence against women and rape as according to the national statistics of 2011/12 there were about 64 514 reported sexual offences in South Africa about 9 100 of those in the Western Cape.
That is a rate of 127.5 sexual offences for every 100 000 people in the population, which is among the highest in the world, said Dr Kelley Moult, an acting director at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit.
“The sexual offences rate in the Western Cape for the same year (2011/12) is the second highest in the country at 173.1 per 100 000 population, after the Free State at 178.5 per 100 000,” said Moult.
“We need to strengthen the civil society sector, among other things by providing adequate resources, to allow them to continue to provide the essential services for rape survivors that they currently provide,” she said.
Dey said her organisation which was established in 1976, supported 5000 rape survivors yearly in the province, “supporting them through their journey through the criminal justice system,” she said.
She said the R1.3m from the Social Development Department would enable her organisation formulate a short-term contract for all the retrenched staff who were currently working on voluntary basis.
Dey said the organisation annual budget of R6m was reduced by 40% but despite the reduction there was still a shortfall “the R1.3m will help us deal with that shortfall”.
Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said the R1.3m was part of the money left over from other programmes within his department.
Fritz said while his department was prompted by the recent spate of murder and rape to donate the R1.3m to Rape Crisis, funds left over from other programmes have also been made available to struggling non profit organisations.
“We’re challenging corporate companies to emulate what we’re doing,” said Fritz.—Peter Luhanga