The ANC parliamentary caucus has vowed to be at the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence.
The 259 members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP), as well as some chief whips and speakers from some provincial legislatures, had their first lekgotla of the sixth Parliament this past weekend, after a week of turmoil in South Africa.
On Monday, ANC chief whip in the National Assembly Pemmy Majodina, her deputy, Doris Dlakude, and NCOP chief whip Seiso Mohai addressed the media on the lekgotla's outcome.
"Our country is still in shock following the tragic events of the past week," Majodina said, adding South Africans' "outpouring of grief" had moved the ANC caucus.
"Together with the people of our country, the ANC caucus says: 'Enough is enough'," she said.
Majodina added President Cyril Ramaphosa had addressed the caucus and reflected on the mood in the country.
"We support the call on our communities to be active participants in stemming the tide against gender-based violence
"The ANC in Parliament will [lead] from the front in the fight against gender-based violence. We will initiate programmes to raise consciousness in society about the safety of women and girls as well as champion the national dialogue and campaigns to eradicate the scourge in all our constituencies."
Majodina said they supported Ramaphosa's call to review the laws on domestic violence and criminal offences.
"In this regard, the ANC caucus will work with other political parties in Parliament to expedite the making of laws that will impose harsher sentences for all crimes against women and children."
The caucus also supports these further measures:
- Declaring gender-based violence a national emergency;
- Making the national register for sex offenders public;
- Life sentences with no possibility of granting parole and no bail for perpetrators;
- Changing the mindset of police members in dealing with victims;
- Ensuring that rape and paediatric evidence collection kits are available at every police station.
In response to the high prevalence of femicide and rape, some political parties and members of the public raised the matter of reinstating the death penalty.
Asked if the caucus had formulated a view on this, Majodina said they did not discuss it.
"We know the Constitution gives us all the right of life. We don't want to be populist and call for the death penalty."
Elaborating on what she meant with declaring gender-based violence a national emergency, Majodina said it would mean doing things in a different way.
"There might be a turnaround plan."
Ramaphosa was criticised for what many people felt was a slow response.
Dlakude said the caucus supported Ramaphosa.
She added he delegated some functions to his ministers, adding he had to allow them the space to do their work first before wading in himself. "He had to get the facts on the ground. We really believe he acted on time."
The caucus also responded to the wave of violence that swept through Johannesburg last week.
"In the course of last week, we have witnessed unprecedented levels of public violence and looting of businesses owned by South Africans and foreign nationals. These events have had a negative impact on our economy and have damaged South Africa's reputation on our continent and the world," Dlakude said.
She added the lekgotla condemned the violence, destruction of property and loss of life.
"The ANC parliamentary caucus calls on the law enforcement agencies to act against the perpetrators of crime, regardless of nationality.
"We call on our people to embrace the values of ubuntu which defines us as Africans."