Women For Change is outraged and heartbroken but not surprised by the news that R100 million from the GBVF Fund, meant to be a lifeline for survivors of gender-based violence and femicide, has been stolen and misused by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, and her acting Director-General, Linton Mchunu.
This is not just another financial scandal; it’s a betrayal of the trust placed in the Department of Social Development (DSD) and a devastating blow to the already fragile network of support for survivors.
16 Days of Activism – A spit in the faces of GBV Organisations
It is particularly disturbing that this theft of R100 Million has come to light during 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. The stealing and misuse of this money is a clear sign of the absolute disregard that the ANC have for the thousands of women and children who face violence and abuse on a daily basis.
Women For Change has never received a single cent of government funding despite applying to the GBVF Fund twice. While we tirelessly fight for justice at the forefront, other GBV organisations, shelters and safe houses across the country have been shut down due to the dire lack of governmental funding and support, leaving women and children with nowhere to turn.
Like countless other GBVF organisations, we rely on our community’s unwavering support and individual donations to do our vital work. We see firsthand the desperate struggle for resources, the silencing of critical services, and the lives left unprotected due to systemic neglect.
The murder of Nombulelo Jessica Michael, a GBV social worker, during 16 Days of Activism
We are equally appalled by the DSD’s insensitive handling of the disappearance and alleged murder of their own GBV social worker, Nombulelo Jessica Michael, whose lifeless body was found in a dam on 11 December 2023.
The statement released on 8 December, two days after her colleagues raised the alarm that she failed to report for work, is an insult to her memory and a testament to the department’s indifference to the safety and well-being of its staff. The delay in acknowledging her disappearance speaks volumes about the DSD’s priorities.
Women For Change demands to President Ramaphosa
This scandal is not just about missing funds; it’s about missing lives, missing voices, and missing justice! Therefore, we demand:
- Lindiwe Zulu must immediately return the stolen R100 million and ensure the funding will be allocated to established GBV organisations actively working on the front.
- Lindiwe Zulu’s immediate dismissal. Her mismanagement of funds crucial for protecting vulnerable women and children is inexcusable. We demand accountability from President Ramaphosa – fire her now!
- President Ramaphosa must act decisively to end this culture of corruption and incompetence within the DSD. We demand a thorough investigation into all levels of corruption within the DSD and harsh consequences for those responsible. We will not tolerate the exploitation of the most vulnerable for personal gain.
- Increased and transparent funding for GBVF organisations. Our work provides a lifeline to thousands of women and fills the gaping holes left by the government’s ineffective response to GBVF. Funding must be readily available, allocated fairly, and monitored efficiently.
We will not be silenced. We will not be ignored. We will not stand by as women are robbed of their safety, their voices, and their lives and the funds allocated to those issues. We demand action, transparency, and a commitment to true justice.