Civil society groups have pleaded with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Justice Minister Michael Masutha to release Martha Marumo, who is serving a life sentence for killing her abusive husband.
Chants of "release her now, release Martha now" echoed through the Saint George Hotel in Pretoria on Thursday as it hosted the first ever national summit on gender-based violence and femicide.
The summit aims to engage over 1 000 stakeholders on a way forward in addressing the scourge of violence against women and children in the country, and outline a roadmap to achieving this.
According to StatsSA, "70 813 women experienced sexual offences in 2016/2017 as compared to 31 665 in 2015/2016. This is over a hundred percent increase in violence against women".
Ramaphosa convened the national summit following a call by activists who planned the #TotalShutdown on Women's Day, which highlighted the plight of women and children in South Africa.
He gave the keynote address on the first day of the long-awaited summit.
Marumo was arrested in 2003 for murdering her husband and was later sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment in 2005. She is currently serving her sentence at Kgosi Mampuru prison.
Emotions ran high when Marumo joined a panel of survivors who each shared harrowing personal experiences of violence against women and children at the hands of men.
"I am a woman who was abused and decided to take the law into my own hands by killing my husband," Marumo told delegates, who gave her a rousing applause.
"This was not a good solution," she said in response.
Details of abuse
Marumo detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of her late husband while she was pregnant with her last born.
"I don't want to lie, I never opened any case against him, but police were involved. I went to the station many times and we were told it was a family matter," she explained.
Marumo, who is now 15 years into her sentence, went to prison when her youngest child was 4 years old.
"My daughter, who is now 19 years old, is always asking me, mommy when are you coming back home?" she told delegates.
The summit ends on Friday.
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