Ilitha Labantu’s Re-Opening of the Dorothy Zihlangu Transitional House (Shelter for abused women and children). Picture: Supplied
Ilitha Labantu’s Re-Opening of the Dorothy Zihlangu Transitional House (Shelter for abused women and children). Picture: Supplied

Safe haven for vulnerable women and children re-opened

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published May 11, 2021

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Cape Town – In an effort to eradicate gender-based violence in the community, Ilitha Labantu re-opened the doors to the Dorothy Zihlangu Transitional Home to continue to provide a safe haven and a second chance at life for vulnerable young women and children.

The Dorothy Zihlangu Transitional House is a six-bedroom house that will accommodate around seven to eight families. It has three fully functional bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and a big lounge area for adults and children. The home is a family unit whereby families are encouraged to unite under the rule and regulation of the encouraged to unify due to the shared similar background.

Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said that during the national lockdown, the movement of many women and their children was restricted meaning that they were forced to stay at home with their abusive partners, during this period the nation witnessed a spike in incidents of violence targeting women and children, to make things worse many places of care were closed to the public. However, Ilitha Labantu’s doors were open to survivors of abuse throughout the pandemic

“When women and children arrive at the Dorothy Zihlangu Transitional House doorstep, their needs will be catered for urgently and they will be provided with immediate protection that comes with physical and emotional support. At the Dorothy Zihlangu Transitional House, women and their children will find a caring and nurturing place where they can meet other families who went through the same experience as them and through that they can share their experiences to create a sense of acceptance and self-worth growth.”

“We offer women and children a safe place to stay, nutritious meals, and the basics they need – like clothing and school supplies – while they are getting their lives back on track. We work with each family to develop a personalized plan that begins with risks and needs assessment, and continues with one-on-one counselling, therapeutic and educational support groups, and recreational activities,” said Monakali.

Ilitha Labantu social worker Faith Petersen said that the psychological effects of abuse against women does not only affect the victim but can also affect the victim's surroundings.

“As an organisation, we address all levels of violence against women because it becomes an issue when the abuse affects children because it causes a ripple effect in the future. Therefore, the shelters give women a way to exit abusive relationships and offer a safe haven for a new lease on life.”

“The shelter will offer psychological support through counselling, skills developments and we hope to empower the women to become financially sustainable in society so that they can be able to provide financially for the kids,” said Petersen.

In order to empower women, Monakali said that the organisation will employ holistic strategies that will have women and children constantly engaging with one another through the extension of broader programmes such as counselling, support groups, fosters independence and court support, just to name a few.

One of the survivors who was at the Transitional House said that she will forever be grateful for coming into contact with Ilitha Labantu gave me a new lease on life.

“In a time in my life when I needed help and had no place to go to, I was offered a place of comfort for me and my two children, I was not working at the time, and we were dependent on my ex-husband financially. Once I could mentally and emotionally tackle life, I received skills-based training that prepared me to be able to provide for my kids financially. I am grateful for the help, patience and care I received at the transitional house. I would encourage other women to seek the help they need when they are in an abusive relationship,” said the survivor.

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