Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu and her deputy, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, contradicted each other on eNCA over the alleged collapse of the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC).

The GBVCC was established in 2013 for victims of gender-based violence to call in and speak to social workers. It also traced, assisted and referred victims to various shelters.

Zulu replaced the original service provider, Vodacom, with black-owned Brilliant Telecommunication (Brilliantel), but a contractual dispute between the department and Brilliantel has led to the virtual collapse of the command centre.

Zulu denied her deputy’s claims that the centre no longer offered the same services as services Vodacom. She what she was not happy with was the decreasing number of social workers and the centre not performing to the maximum.

‘Let me be clear on something: Vodacom is a big company and has financial muscle, so when we give other companies, particularly black-owned companies an opportunity, we need to be able to support them. We need to make sure that they do it right and have the capacity for it.’ 

Bogopane-Zulu said: ‘I know the command centre because I built it up and monitored it from the beginning. I wrote to the minister, saying I have issues with the command centre and needed to discuss it with her before it even got worse’.

Under Vodacom ‘The centre had features that other call centres did not have. However, they are no longer there’. 

Insiders said that the GBVCC was one of the projects that Zulu removed from Bogopane-Zulu when Zulu became the minister.

City Press reported that the problem started when the department failed to pay Brilliantel its fee of R7,5 million for five months. The two entities entered into a R45 million contract for three years.