'They are not statistics': Ramaphosa addresses recent spate of GBV incidents

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed recent spike in gender-based violence incidents.
  • Over the past few weeks, the country has seen no fewer than 21 women and children being murdered, the president revealed.
  • Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to consider the consequence of their silence.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking to the nation on Wednesday evening, addressed the recent spate of gender-based violence incidents, stating the country has seen no fewer than 21 women and children being murdered over the past few weeks.

"As a man, as a husband and as a father, I am appalled at what is no less than a war being waged against the women and children of our country. At a time when the pandemic has left us all feeling vulnerable and uncertain, violence is being unleashed on women and children with a brutality that defies comprehension," he said.

The president's comments come as the country mourns the deaths of Tshegofatso Pule, Naledi Phangindawo, Nompumelelo Tshaka, Nomfazi Gabada, Nwabisa Mgwandela, Altecia Kortjie and Lindelwa Peni, and many other women at the hands of men.

READ | Tshegofatso Pule's lawyer uncle will no longer represent GBV accused - report

Ramaphosa said while their killers thought they could silence them, the nation would not forget them and would speak for them where they could not.

"We will speak for the 89-year-old grandmother who was killed in an old age home in Queenstown, the 79-year-old grandmother who was killed in Brakpan and the elderly woman who was raped in KwaSwayimane in KwaZulu-Natal.

"We will speak for the innocent souls of Tshegofatso Pule's unborn daughter who had already been given a name, 6-year-old Raynecia Kortjie and the 6-year-old child found dead in a veld in KwaZulu-Natal."

'They are not just statistics'

He added these woman and children killed by men were not just numbers and statistics, they have names, families and friends.

Ramaphosa commended the police for their work in arresting suspects and also placed confidence in the courts as the alleged perpetrators applied for bail.

Last September, Ramaphosa announced a five-point emergency plan to put a halt to gender-based violence during an extraordinary joint sitting of Parliament.

News24 earlier reported they were prevention, strengthening the criminal justice system, enhancing the legal and policy framework, ensuring adequate care, support and healing for victims of violence as well as strengthening the economic power of women.

This after South Africa hosted its first national summit against gender-based violence and femicide in November 2018. It was convened following the #TotalShutdown march against the national scourge of gender-based violence and femicide.

ALSO READ | #GBVSummit: 'We hear you and we will not fail you' – Ramaphosa tells delegates

Since last December, Ramaphosa said, 10 government-owned buildings have been handed over to the Department of Social Development to be converted into shelters for victims of gender-based violence.

In addition, 13 regional courts have been upgraded into sexual offences courts and 7 000 evidence collection kits have been distributed to every police station in the country. There are also now more than 1 000 survivor-friendly rooms at police stations to support the work of law enforcement agencies.

"Many police officers, prosecutors, magistrates and policymakers have undergone sensitivity and awareness training, and over 3 000 government employees, who work with children and mentally disabled persons, have been checked against the National Register of Sex Offenders.

"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," he added.

'End the silence'

The president also called on South Africans to consider the consequence of their silence.

"Ultimately, the success of our fight to end gender-based violence will require the involvement and support of our entire society. If we are serious about ending these crimes, we cannot remain silent any longer.

"These perpetrators are known to us and our communities. By looking away, by discouraging victims from laying charges, by shaming women for their lifestyle choices or their style of dress, we become complicit in these crimes," Ramaphosa said.

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