- The NPA says that the issue of GBVF is high on its agenda.
- The prosecuting authority said communities were part and parcel of assisting the system with evidence.
- The security cluster hosted a virtual dialogue as women's month draws to a close.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says the issue of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) is high on its agenda.
"This issue is high on our agenda, we place the victims at the centre of the system, that is the approach," Deputy National Director of Public Prosecution (DNDPP), Advocate Rodney de Kock said on Monday.
De Kock was speaking at a security cluster virtual dialogue on GBVF as women’s month comes to a close.
The dialogue was themed: "Improving access to justice for the victims and survivors of GBV and Femicide".
De Kock was joined by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and IPID head, Jennifer Ntlatseng.
GBV and femicide was described as a shadow pandemic in South Africa.
De Kock was probed on questions about courts being lenient on perpetrators of GBV and femicide and how access to justice for survivors and victims could be improved.
He gave a list of examples to show the NPA was serious.
"The courts are denying bail to perpetrators, giving long sentences and we put a lot of energy in assisting the investigation. The minister of justice has created the dedicated sexual offences court throughout the country, [where] there are specialised services.
"Prosecutors are specifically trained to deal with these cases in the courts and they work closely with detectives to prepare a case for court," he noted.
The DNDPP however emphasised that the citizens were part and parcel of the system.
"We are dependent on communities for information - the sooner we can get the evidence, the easier it is for us as prosecutors. The system is geared up to prioritise these cases," he said.
A member of civil society in the gallery raised the issue of women dying with protection orders, saying the orders became mere pieces of paper granted by the court as "police do not know about it".
De Kock noted that the issue was not the protection order, but rather how to assist the complainant.
"The issue is can we respond immediately? We need to explore a quicker response for the individual after the court has recognised their complaint and when that order is breached, how do we respond?" he said.
National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole explained how law enforcement played a role.
"The first thing is that each and every police station has a domestic violence register, the moment any member of the public has a protection order, that person must immediately interact with the police station.
"The dedicated members must take that protection order into the register and make the necessary arrangements to ensure that they are safe this includes where is this person staying, who are they staying with and how they can be protected," he said.