- Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has called for a stronger criminal justice system to confront gender-based violence.
- He added that a wave of reforms was under way to address the issue of justice for women.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said legislative amendments have been prepared for harsher sentencing on gender-based violence cases.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola wants a stronger, more effective criminal justice system to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence.
Lamola's statement comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa assured the nation on Wednesday that the criminal justice system will remain focused on gender-based violence cases. The president also said that more arrests and prosecutions against perpetrators will follow.
Gender-based violence increased dramatically since the government declared a national state of disaster.
Lamola was speaking at the virtual 5th Tsietsi Mashinini Memorial Lecture. He said justice for women must be tangible, and he added that the Ramaphosa administration would be redefining a lot of the tenets of the criminal justice system.
"The first wave of these reforms have begun through our sexual offences prosecution, which limits secondary victimisation. This along with strengthening the Domestic Violence Act, recalibrating the Sexual Offenders List and addressing the bail provision for sexual offences will begin to help many women.
"We will strengthen the Thutuzela care centers to ensure cooperation between governments. Of immediate and particular significance is the increased cooperation between the South African Police Service and the Department of Justice," Lamola said.
The recent gruesome murder of Tshegofatso Pule has raised wider concern about the scourge of violence against women.
Pule, 28, was found stabbed and hanged in a veld in Roodepoort last week. She was eight months pregnant when she was murdered.
Lamola said services, which can be obtained from the Thutuzela care centres, are critical - they include a direct pipeline to prosecution and immediate reception of medical care for screening, tests and treatment of survivors of rape crimes, as well as professional and empathetic counselling.
'Sick and tired'
"South African women cannot breathe, because of our knees as men, be it a knee of their brothers, uncles and intimate partners. As we fondly remember Mashinini, we need to transform our minds; we must become sick and tired of challenges besieging our communities.
"We must challenge the status quo. It cannot be correct that 26 years into democracy, our people are still victims of some of the things Mashinini and his generation fought against. We must partner with government and take responsibility for our individual actions, as government alone will not be able to tackle all the challenges of our country."
On Wednesday evening, in an address to the nation, Ramaphosa said: "Legislative amendments have been prepared around, among other things, minimum sentencing in cases of gender-based violence, bail conditions for suspects, and greater protection for women who are victims of intimate partner violence. I urge our lawmakers in Parliament to process them without delay."
However, on Thursday, it was reported that Ramaphosa's administration is yet to bring any bill before Parliament.