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Op Seer Se Spoor inspires SAPS training in the fight against GBV

Countless GBV victims end up as nameless and faceless statistics, but one constable's ordeal has improved the way police respond to cases that are reported
Thu, Nov 19, 2020

Ernusta Maralack is the host of Op Seer Se Spoor

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As features editor of Kuier magazine and presenter of KykNET's Op Seer Se Spoor, Ernusta Maralack visits families and communities affected by gender-based violence in search of not only of a story, but of hope and the promise of a resolution.

When asked why she pursues these stories, which often include asking survivors to relive their trauma on a national stage, Maralack reveals that it is important to tell these stories to drive a point home about the long-term effects of violence within families and communities.

This kind of dedication to truth and justice is surely what the SA Film and Television Awards committee saw in the show when they recognised Op Seer Se Spoor as the Best Factual and Educational Programme earlier this year.

Episode 11 of the latest season tells the story of Constable Evelyn Pienaar, who survived being shot six times by her partner in 2012. The man also fired at her family members, injuring them before turning the gun on himself. Pienaar's is a familiar story about intimate partner violence, as well as violence from policemen towards their families.

Maralack remarks that, while Pienaar made every effort she could within the law to protect herself, including having a protection order instated against her abusive partner, she was still not completely safe. This is the impression created by the police system, which has been widely reported to be slow in response to emergencies, and often protecting their colleagues.

The South African Police Service recently indicated interest in using Evelyn's story as part of an upcoming training programme. Maralack believes that police and the justice system as a whole will see the value in being proactive instead of reactive about GBV, and treat all reports with urgency.

When asked if she believes that the GBV challenge can be comprehensively dealt with in our lifetime, Maralack says that it may happen "if the whole society from ground-level to government-level is willing to do their part". Law enforcement must be much firmer so that women feel safe reporting incidents. Presently, Maralack does not believe that the justice system is protecting women as effectively as it can. She adds that women in public service could also use their positions of power more effectually.

At a social level, it is very important for us to actively work against the normalisation of violence.

Maralack believes violence is learnt behaviour and it can be eradicated. It is best to be mindful that when a threat has been made, that person is highly likely to follow through with it. To women in these situations, Marlack says: "Know it will get worse and that you are gambling with your life. Please love yourself more than how much that abuser claims to love you. Love doesn't hurt. Period."

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