As the country begins 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), two Cape Town shelters for abused women may have to close if funding is not secured soon.

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Manenberg and St Anne’s Homes in Woodstock have both issued public appeals for emergency funding in order to keep their shelters open.

On Monday alone, advocate Bernadine Bachar, director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre, said she sent out at least 90 appeals to various funders. “I need R300,000 within the next two weeks or we’ll have to close our doors,” Bachar said.

She claimed that the centre, which opened in 1999, receives only 29% of its funding from the Department of Social Development (DSD), which is currently experiencing “financial constraints.”

“It’s a never-ending battle. I devote a significant amount of my time to fund-raising. The funders are tightening their belts and are unable to commit to [the amounts] they did previously “She stated.

Bachar also mentioned that the centre hosted smaller fundraisers such as high teas. However, she claimed that these barely made a dent in the organization’s operating costs.

Lange also stated that DSD funding only covers 29% of their annual budget, and that it is paid quarterly, so they will not receive the funds until January 2023.

St Anne’s Homes, which has 21 bed spaces, requires R300 000 per month to stay open, according to Lange.

“The department is facing financial constraints and thus appeals to the private sector to also get involved and empower women and children in the shelters,” said Western Cape social development department spokesperson Monique Mortlock-Malgas.

She stated that the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) of the department currently funds 26 shelters in the Western Cape.

“The VEP transfer budget for the fiscal year 2022/2023 is R62 866 000, with shelter services accounting for 52%,” Mortlock-Malgas added.

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