NATIONAL NEWS - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday 6 September reiterated calls for all South Africans to take an unequivocal stand against the latest spate of gender-based violence.
During a visit to the home of Uyinene Mrwetyana in Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape, who was raped and murdered by a Post Office official, he said the government is working around the clock to implement solutions to the crisis facing the country. The 42-year-old man has been arrested.
“The death of your daughter and other women in the country is something that has gotten us to look at gender-based violence in a way that [makes it clear] we have reached a watershed moment,” he told her parents.
“Men must take responsibility and stop treating women as objects. We must also say we have reached a turning point as a nation in dealing with gender-based violence.”
He said the government will continue to work with faith-based organisations, community-based organisations and professional bodies to weed out gender-based violence.
Also, the National Register for sex offenders is set to be overhauled and modernised in line with the Sexual Offences Act to ensure that it is effective in combating gender-based violence.
This register will list all men convicted of acts of violence against women and children and the President committed to asking Parliament to consider amending legislation to make the register public.
He will also propose to Cabinet that all crimes against women and children should attract harsher minimum sentences and that the State should oppose bail and parole for these offenders. “All gender-based violence cases that have been closed or that were not properly investigated must be reviewed.”
At a provincial level, the government will strengthen emergency teams, which bring together the police, social development, health, justice and education. These emergency response teams will focus in particular on violence directed at women, children and other marginalised groups including the LGBTQIA Plus community and people with disabilities. Systemic challenges such as the backlog of cases, delays in DNA testing and the availability of rape test kits in police stations will also get priority in the government’s agenda.
He said the government will implement a national multi-faceted plan to prevent gender-based violence through school programmes, community initiatives and workplace policies. He will also request the Finance Minister to allocate additional funding to the campaign against gender-based violence. The President said he would ask Parliament to discuss and identify urgent interventions that can be implemented without delay.
He also stressed that violence against women is a men’s problem. “It is not a problem of what a woman said or did, what a woman was wearing, or where she was walking. Violence against women is a men’s problem. It is men who rape and kill women.
There is, therefore, an obligation on the men of this country to act to end such behaviour and such crimes,” he said.
He said men must speak out. “We must not look away. We must face gender-based violence head-on. Let us, as families, make sure that we raise boys to respect women, to respect themselves, to value life and human dignity.”
“As South African men, let us take responsibility for our actions. We must treat the women and girls in our country with care and respect. It is only when we do that that we will end violence against women and children. Let us declare that enough is enough.”
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