16 Days of Activism supporters march to Sexual Offences Court

2019-12-04 06:00
PHOTO: lethiwe makhanyaLifeLine joined with other organisations outside the Pietermaritzburg Maintenance and Sexual Offences Court to deliver their memorandum.

PHOTO: lethiwe makhanyaLifeLine joined with other organisations outside the Pietermaritzburg Maintenance and Sexual Offences Court to deliver their memorandum.

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AS part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, LifeLine together with other organisations marched to the Pietermaritzburg Maintenance and Sexual Offences Court on Monday where they submitted a memorandum of demands.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and children. It runs every year from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day.

THE WOMEN’S DEMANDS INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING:

• All rape cases that proceeded as sexual assault cases are reviewed as per Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act and Related Matters and that sentence is revised by March 31, 2020.

• Investigate the reasons for poor performance of the Sexual Offences Court and remedy this situation by March 31, 2020.

• Court to provide gender sensitivity training to prosecutors and magistrates responsible for gender-based violence cases by January 2020.

• Court to appoint a magistrate that has zero tolerance for gender-based violence perpetrators by March 31, 2020.

LifeLine Director Sinikiwe Biyela said they decided to march to this court because they are concerned about the manner in which the Sexual Offences Court has managed rape cases in the past five years.

She said they are disappointed that this court has failed to protect the victims of gender-based violence and has failed to provide them with the justice they deserve.

“This is a specialised court for prosecuting rape cases and sexual offences, which means that the statistics should be high in terms of conviction rate, but it is actually very low, which is very disappointing.

“The justice system still has a lot to do in terms of making sure that perpetrators are being punished.

“If the perpetrators are getting away with rape, rape is not going to stop. If they are getting away with beating women — it is not going stop,” said Biyela.

“We are always encouraging people to speak up against abuse and report their cases, but when they get to court their cases get withdrawn without any good reason, or maybe because of a small ‘contradiction’.

“For example, in a rape case of a child, if a child says the house was yellow and the investigating officer finds out that the house is actually orange, the perpetrator will be acquitted because the victim has ‘contradicted’ herself.

“How can you expect a child to know everything and describe everything as it is ?

She is just a child.

“We want the court to send harsh messages to perpetrators by giving harsh sentences,” she said.

Maintenance and Sexual Offences Court Area Manager Shadrack Nzuza accepted the memorandum and assured the women he would deliver it to the relevant offices, including to the Deputy Minister of Justice.

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