Not enough convictions for gender-based violence, says DA’s Refiloe Nt’sekhe

In the past five years, 251 children have died as a result of gender-based violence (GBV) in Gauteng alone Picture: iStock
In the past five years, 251 children have died as a result of gender-based violence (GBV) in Gauteng alone Picture: iStock

In the past five years, 251 children have died as a result of gender-based violence (GBV) in Gauteng alone.

This was revealed by Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko in response to questions about the impact of GBV on children, posed by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development Refiloe Nt’sekhe in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

In her response, Mazibuko said from 2014 to last year more than 200 children had died, with 13 dying alongside their mothers or grandmothers.

In a statement, Nt’sekhe said she and her department were deeply concerned by the numbers and the ongoing plight of women and children in the country.

“The safety of our women and children is under threat, as it is reported that women and children are being abused on a daily basis,” she said.

Most worrying though, she added, is the low conviction rate in the province in relation to the number of cases that are opened.

“From 2014 to last year, 131 210 GBV cases were opened at police stations around Gauteng. Of these cases, only 44 522 arrests have been made, with only 9 786 convictions,” Mazibuko said.

Speaking to City Press on the matter, Nt’sekhe said answers were needed about the shocking statistics.

“If you look at the conviction rate, it is 22% of almost 45 000 cases that have been opened. Then we look at the number of cases that were opened but did not even result in any arrests, there are more than 80 000 cases.

“We need to ask the pertinent question of why these cases fell through the cracks.

“Could it be because we have situations where police turn victims away and tell them to go home to their husbands or partners and resolve their domestic issues? 80 000 is a significant number, more so when you compare it with the 9 786 convictions. This is where the main issue is,” Nt’sekhe said.

She said what added to her dismay was how it seemed like “perpetrators have more rights than the women who are victims of GBV”.

“One of the things that came up during the GBV debate in Parliament was that government pays R70 per day for a woman in a shelter, the person who needs security. Meanwhile, the same government shockingly spends R360 per day for an inmate in prison. Already that does not make sense,” she said.

In September, former DA leader Mmusi Maimane, while addressing members of the joint sitting of Parliament on GBV, said this had to be rectified and that as a country “we have to get our priorities straight”.

During the same sitting, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “The women and children of this country are under siege. There is a very violent and brutal war under way against the women of South Africa.”

Ramaphosa explained that the sitting was urgent as women were killed by men they were in relationships with, while others were killed and raped by strangers. At the time, the president said that incidents “should be treated as a turning point” in the battle to end violence against women.

At the time, national crime statistics released by the SA Police Service (SAPS) showed that sexual offences increased by 4.6% in 2018/19.

The rape and murder of 19-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana at the Clareinch Post Office was one such tragic incident that had the country up in arms.

As the country marks 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, Nt’sekhe says this is an important period for women and children living in fear, but emphasises that the issue at hand should be highlighted and fought against daily.

“We call on communities to speak out on issues of GBV as this social ill has a negative impact on the wellbeing of our people. The awareness against GBV must not only be conducted during the 16 days, but on all 365 days of the year. It is high time that cases of GBV are prioritised to ensure justice for the victims,” she said.

“There are no specialised units within the SAPS that deal solely with GBV,” Nt’sekhe lamented.

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August 2020

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