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Authorities at the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court have been told to make adjustments to their infrastructure and operations in order to accommodate more cases of gender-based violence (GBV).

Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Thembi Siweya, said this in response to a presentation by court management during her visit on Thursday to assess the impact of COVID-19 and what was being done to address any challenges.

She said the court needs to review its structure so it can accommodate more support staff for GBV victims when they testify in the dedicated sexual offences courts.

“Sexual offences courts in particular are important for us to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence,” said Siweya, who was accompanied by the Free State MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, Sam Mashinini.

She said a dedicated sexual offences court is a critical intervention in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide as it is specifically designed to reduce secondary victimisation and create a conducive space for survivors to share their testimonies.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation is expected to work closely with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to address the shortcomings at the court that have the potential to hamper efficient service delivery.

The deputy minister and MEC were pleased with the court’s level of compliance with COVID-19 regulations.

“It’s important that all our institutions continue to comply with COVID-19 health protocols and protect the lives of all public servants. We must be able to continue to serve our people,” said Siweya.

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