24 August 2021
Government strongly condemns the recent senseless and gruesome murders of innocent young women. They include University of Fort Hare law student, Ms Nosicelo Mtebeni (23), whose dismembered body was discovered dumped in a suitcase in Quigney, East London; Ms Palesa Maruping (29), found hanging from the ceiling of a house in Khuma Location near Stilfontein, North West, and Ms Pheliswa “Dolly” Sawutana (32), strangled to death with shoelaces in Kosovo informal settlement in Cape Town, as well as many others not featured in the media.
These heinous crimes against women sadly happened during Women’s Month, when we should be celebrating women’s contribution in society and reflecting on some of the challenges they continue to face. These brutal acts of violence against women are a stark reminder that the ongoing fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) is nowhere near the end. The recent Crime Statistics released by the South African Police Service confirm the extent of the challenge we continue to face in securing the safety of women in the country.
Expressing concern over the brutal murders and acts of violence against women, GCIS Director-General Phumla Williams states: “This has been a dark and brutal Women’s Month, marred by the brutal violence against women. Whilst we continue our efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, GBVF is rearing its abominable head as the second pandemic that is destroying the fabric of our society.”
Williams added: “Whilst the call for justice to be served for these women is key, we also call on responsible men to lead the fight against GBVF in our communities”.
Government continues to drive the implementation of the pillars of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBVF, which seeks to end GBVF. It has allocated over R21 billion over the next three years to support the six pillars of the NSP. Since the launch of the NSP last year, 32 regional courts have been designated as Sexual Offences courts in various parts of the country and about 3 500 investigating officers received specialised training on Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual crimes. Twelve public buildings have since been renovated and repurposed to be used as shelters and police stations have been capacitated with sexual assault evidence kits.
Importantly, legislation currently before Parliament seeks to tighten cases related to domestic violence issues, such as denying offenders bail and sentencing them to long prison terms. The country’s judicial system has handed down harsh penalties and sentences to those found guilty of GBVF.
As peace-loving and law-abiding South Africans, we must all – individually and collectively – contribute to the safety and well-being of women in our country. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 affirms the right to life and safety for all people. It is our innate responsibility to support and help create a non-violent environment for all women. We need to prevent and stop the violation of women’s rights. Law-enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system alone cannot stop these senseless murders.
Let us all create the change we want to see, and men have the duty to lead the fight by respecting and accepting decisions made by women, irrespective of tradition, culture and institutional settings. The power is in our hands to empower women. Government departments continue to ensure financial inclusion of women through their procurement plans.
To obtain assistance and counselling on GBVF matters, call the GBV Command Centre on: 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). Callers can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.
Phumla Williams, Government Spokesperson
Cell: 083 5010139