Refuge from abuse opens in Hangberg

Some of the donors and sponsors of the safe house, from left, Hector Elliott, Britt Trainer, Andrew Stoller and Jacqueline Gooch with Liezel Mathews at the official opening.

A new safe house has opened in Hangberg for abused women and children.

House of Angels, the brainchild of Liezel Mathews, the owner of the Little Angels Educare, opened officially on Friday December 9, but it has already been helping victims of abuse for several weeks.

Ms Mathews said the project was close to her heart because abuse had not only claimed the life of a close friend it had also touched her own family.

“This is a dream come true. Some family and friends went through this, and I always said that one day, I’ll open a shelter to save women. My friend was killed a few years ago, and my own sister has faced gender based violence.”

In June 2020, Ms Mathews faced a major setback when her creche was burnt down during housing protests (“Little Angels torched,” Sentinel News, June 26, 2020). She rebuilt, but another fire gutted the creche two years later forcing her to rebuilt for a second time (“Little Angels creche rises from the ashes – again,” Sentinel News, March 18).

Ms Mathews said the safe house was currently sheltering 11 women and 13 children with some referred by the Department of Social Development.

“I can’t give more personal details as it is a safe haven. We are a facility that only works with those who are really vulnerable and facing GBV,” Ms Mathews said, adding that the house had an open-door policy and helped families outside Hout Bay as well.

The house is run by three mothers from Hangberg who cannot be named for safety reasons.

The safe house has received the backing of Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF) chairman Jan Lewis who said there was a great need for such a service in Hangberg.

“We have begun the process of rebuilding Hangberg into a great community, where the rights of all residents can be respected and honoured. We want a loving, caring and safe community. We want a community where the children, our youth, the women and the older generation can feel protected,” he said.

Ms Mathews said she hoped to open a bigger safe house in the next two years to help more people. She wants it to take the form of a community centre with a creche, youth programmes, offices, workshops, a playground and a food garden.

If you would like to help the safe house with toiletries, clothing or food, contact Ms Mathews at 078 323 4750 or Camilla at 061 733 7354.

Liezel Mathews taking guests through the rooms of the new safe house.
The new lounge area of the safe house.
Jacqueline Gooch from the Department of Transport and Public Works, cut the ribbon to open the House of Angels safe house in Hangberg.