R1.6 billion has been made available. The criminal justice process is being strengthened. Economic opportunities are being created for women who are vulnerable to abuse.
This is part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Emergency Action Plan to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV).
Commenting on his weekly newsletter to the nation, Ramaphosa said that “the three life sentences handed down to the rapist and killer of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana by the Cape High Court are befitting of this heinous crime”.
He expressed his wish that the life sentences would act as a deterrent to men who rape and kill the women of our country.
“The pain we felt as a nation at the brutal killing of Uyinene (pictured), of Jesse Hess, of Leighandre Jegels, of Janika Mallo and of the many other slain women and children remains fresh. We dare not rest.
The violence perpetrated by men against women remains a scourge and national crisis that we must act urgently to end,” he wrote.
Ramaphosa announced the Emergency Action Plan to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence at a special joint sitting of Parliament in October.
R1.6 billion has been made available for the plan to be resourced and implemented.
“The women of our country are tired of living in fear. It is their rightful expectation that they should be protected from violence, and that perpetrators of such acts should be imprisoned,” said Ramaphosa.
“I have taken personal responsibility to ensure the emergency plan is implemented, and I will provide our citizens with regular reports on our progress.
“Gender-based violence is not a problem of the rich or the poor. It is not a problem of the townships or the suburbs or the villages. It impacts us all, and we have had enough of its deeply harmful effects: broken families, ravaged communities and lives destroyed.”
• We are on track to achieve our target of establishing 11 more sexual offences courts by the end of the current financial year.
• A new Sexual Offences Court has been opened in Sibasa in Limpopo and eleven regional courts across all provinces have been identified for upgrade.
• To protect the rights and dignity of child survivors and mentally disabled survivors, CCTV systems have been upgraded at 38 regional courts.
• Two weeks ago Ramaphosa opened the High Court in Mpumalanga and he was pleased to see that the court has the appropriate facilities to protect the rights and dignity of child survivors and mentally disabled survivors. “Such facilities allow testimony to be given without having to face assailants in an open courtroom,” he said.
• The state is in the process of establishing three new Thuthuleza Care Centres centres in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Provinces are identifying underutilised buildings that can be refurbished and used as shelters.
• Clearing case backlogs is a priority. The National Prosecuting Authority is implementing a 100-day rapid results approach to speed up case turnaround times. Courts with significant backlogs in the North West, Eastern Cape and Limpopo had been identified for roll-out.
• National and provincial 24-hour call centres to deal with complaints against police officials, prosecutors and magistrates on gender-based violence and femicide cases are now up and functioning.
• The stats is working to reduce the GBV case backlogs at forensic laboratories and are developing a tracking mechanism that will be rolled out in January 2020.
• The SAPS has allocated 312 new recruits currently undergoing basic training to the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units.
• To date, 7 000 rape evidence collection kits have been distributed to police stations across the country.
• A project to reopen unresolved murder and sexual offences cases (so-called cold cases) will soon be operational. It has already begun in the Eastern Cape.
• Government employees who work with children and mentally disabled persons are being vetted against the National Register of Sex Offenders. To date, 1222 officials have been vetted, including prosecutors and members of the police service.
• Legislative reform is under way to tighten conditions around bail and sentencing for perpetrators of gender-based violence, as well as provisions that extend the protection afforded to women and children.
• We are rolling out an education, awareness and prevention campaign on various media platforms. This includes providing information on how to access the Thuthuzela Care Centres and the gender-based violence command centre.