President Cyril Ramaphosa has heard the call by South Africans for emergency measures to end Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.
Over the past few days, our country has been deeply traumatised by acts of extreme violence perpetrated by men against women and children.
“These aacts of violence have made us doubt the very foundation of our democratic society, our commitment to human rights and human dignity, to equality, to peace and to justice,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa when he addressed the nation and again condemned Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF).
“Today, I speak to you as your President and as a citizen of our country. But I also speak to you as a husband and as a father to my daughters. Like millions of men across this country, I am appalled at the war being waged on our sisters, our mothers, our wives, our partners and our daughters,” he said.
“We know the names of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Janika Mallo, Ayakha Jiyane and her three little siblings, but we also grieve for many others who have died at the hands of men. These killings have caused great pain and outrage because acts of such brutality have become all too common in our communities. Violence against women has become more than a national crisis. It is a crime against our common humanity,” he added.
The President stressed that women have every right to expect that they be free from harassment and violence. “We have heard the calls of the women of our country for action and for justice. The collective anger, the pain and the fear that these killings have caused must strengthen our resolve to end all forms of violence and abuse perpetrated by men against women,” he said.
The President said that the national register of GBV offenders, provided for in the Sexual Offences Act, will be overhauled and modernised.
“It will list all the men convicted of acts of violence against women and children. I will ask Parliament to consider amending legislation to make the register public.
“I will propose to Cabinet that all crimes against women and children should attract harsher minimum sentences. We agree with the women of our country that the state should oppose bail and parole for perpetrators of rape and murder against women and children,” the President said.
Many women’s organisations have raised concerns that there aren’t enough rehabilitation programmes in prisons. “These programmes will be increased and reconfigured to reduce the number of repeat offenders,” the President confirmed. In addition, the President stressed that all GBV cases that were closed or not properly investigated must be reviewed.
“We will strengthen emergency teams at a provincial level – which bring together the police, social development, health, justice and education – to continue providing rapid and comprehensive responses to all forms of violence against women,” the President said. These teams will focus in particular on violence directed at women, children and other marginalised groups, including the LGBTQIA Plus community and people with disabilities.
The President said that other systemic challenges, such as the backlog of cases, delays in DNA testing and the availability of rape test kits in our police stations will also be addressed. He said every means at the state’s disposal will be used to strengthen the national response to GBV; and a national multi-faceted plan to prevent GBV through school programmes, community initiatives and workplace policies will be implemented.
“The Minister of Finance will be asked to allocate additional funding to the national machinery to co-ordinate the campaign against GBV,” he added.
Progress has been made in implementing the decisions taken at last year’s Presidential Summit on GBV, including reviewing the laws on domestic violence and sexual offences to prioritise survivors’ interests and needs. In addition, since 2013, 92 dedicated Sexual Offences Courts have been established. Another 11 will be opened this financial year.
Men must speak out
“Violence against women is not a women’s problem. It is not a problem of what a woman said or did, what a woman was wearing or where she was walking. Violence against women is a men’s problem.
“It is men who rape and kill women. There is therefore an obligation on the men of this country to act to end such behaviour and such crimes. As men, let us speak out. We must not look away. We must face GBV head-on. Let us, as families, make sure that we raise boys to respect women, to respect themselves, to value life and human dignity,” the President said.
“As South African men, let us take responsibility for our actions… Let us declare
that enough is enough,” he added.
Reporting abuse can save a life. Government is urging all communities and victims of any form of abuse to report such cases to law enforcement officers or use any of the following hotline numbers: Callers may remain anonymous and all information will be treated with the strictest confidence.
• SAPS Crime Stop: 08600 10 111
• SMS Crime Line: 32211
• Department of Social Development 24-hour Command Centre: 0800 428 428 (toll-free) – callers can speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling
• Callers can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.
• Child Welfare South Africa: 0861 424453 / 011 452-4110 / email:firstname.lastname@example.org
• Child Line – 08000 55 555 (toll-free)