Sinethemba Shelter

Shelter for abused women and children

Perspective
In areas of poverty, high unemployment, and crowded conditions, some people vent their anger through violence towards those around them – and the victims are usually women and children. There are very few places offering accommodation and support to the victims.

Sinethemba Shelter
Sinethemba, near Port Shepstone on the South Coast of Natal, is a shelter for women and children who have been abused. It was established by the Ifafa Women’s group in 2005 to deal with the increasing numbers of rape and abuse victims in the area. Women who have nowhere else to turn come from as far afield as Gauteng to the three-bedroomed house, where they and their children can stay temporarily until alternative plans are made.

Sadly, there are many victims, some because of alcohol-fuelled violence; others have included an 84-year-old lady beaten by her grandson for her pension, and a 64-year-old stroke victim raped by her neighbour. At Sinethemba the women are helped in whatever way possible, for example in getting court interdicts, or tracing relatives able to care for them.

The shelter has an ethos of empowerment, and some women have been trained in office skills or sewing. One lady, who came to the shelter after fleeing from a man who knocked her teeth out, broke her nose and jaw, and kicked her so hard in the back that she had to have a kidney removed, said: ‘I was a broken person when I came to the shelter, but I have regained my confidence and worked my way to a better life.'

Sinethemba would like to expand and offer the services of a social worker and legal adviser, but funding is a constant battle – just managing to obtain basic supplies such as food and nappies can be very difficult. They have realised there is also need to open a safe house for children, as o many abused and abandoned children are being brought to them.