After helping scores of domestic violence victims from an old embassy building in Sibasa for 18 years, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP) is now set to operate from under a tree.
This is after the organisation was evicted from their offices because the building they used is owned by the Department of Public Works, and they have been unable to pay their rent.
The hope of many victims
TVEP spokesperson Tshilidzi Masikhwa said that they were worried about the eviction which comes during the 16 Days of Activism and at the start of the December holidays when they normally record a higher-than-average number of cases.
“We have been operating from the building for the past 18 years, and people have learnt to trust us to handle their matters as we are the hope of many victims. And that is why we continue to help people, even if it means operating out in the open or under a tree. As we all know, during the holidays cases ranging from domestic abuse to sexual assault are reported and people will require our help. We cannot afford to disappoint them,” said Masikhwa.
The eviction happened after the Limpopo High Court ruled in favour of the Department of Public Works that had filed court applications last year to evict TVEP from the building.
The rural based NGO could not afford to pay their rent and their negotiations for a settlement were not successful. The organisation operates from donations from foreign aid which mostly covers their operational costs. The TVEP currently has over 67 employees, some of whom are based at trauma centres at Donald Fraser and Tshilidzini hospitals.
Praise from the government
“Over the years we have assisted more than 26 000 victims as we have become a first stop for victims of abuse. They know that we are the only place in the area where they can get the help they need,” he said.
TVEP provides counselling, advocacy, support, access to medical examinations and anti-retroviral treatment to hundreds of people. He further said that they are surprised that the same government which usually praises the work done by the TVEP each year does not want to help them.
“We get praise all the times from the government, but they do not seem to want to help us. We are here to help people and care for them, but little is being done to help us. Each day we restore hope and life to many victims and we feel our work needs to be appreciated,” he said.
Masikhwa has however encouraged people to continue visiting their trauma centres at hospitals while TVEP tries to find a place to operate from. - Health-e News.
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