South Africa: New Domestic Violence Helpline Gets More Than 200 Calls in Four Days


The National Shelter Movement of South Africa has launched a new 24-hour toll free helpline.

The helpline is serviced by experienced social workers who will give advice and help victims of gender based violence.

Saartjie Baartman Centre director says over 200 calls were dealt within four days of the helpline going live.

Just 24 hours after the launch of the new National Shelter Movement of South Africa (NSMSA) helpline, a victim of abuse who was among the first callers was extracted from a dangerous situation and taken to safety.

“When a survivor phones through to the helpline, we get her details including her address. We offer basic emotional support, then assist her to get into a shelter or whatever assistance she needs like going to a police station to lay criminal charges or get a protection order,” said Saartjie Baartman Centre director, Bernadine Bachar.

The 24-hour toll-free shelter helpline, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, went live on Wednesday. It is monitored by three social workers and based at the Saartjie Baartman Centre in Athlone.

Bachar said that based on the volume of calls they received within a day of the helpline going live, it was clear that more resources were needed. She said over 200 calls were dealt within four days.

The helpline is serviced by experienced social workers who will give advice and help victims of gender-based violence

“Many women are seeking places at a shelter and we have had a significant number of women requesting assistance in obtaining a protection order,” said Bachar.

She said with the software used for the helpline, social workers could give callers information on the nearest shelters and whether there were beds available. They were working with about 100 shelters, Bachar said.