“Gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) is an ill that has left no society or sector untouched.”
These were the words echoed by Ekurhuleni MMC Councilor Masele Madihlaba during the Crime Victim’s Rights Week candle light ceremonial service in honour of victims of gender-based violence and femicide.
The MMC was speaking on behalf of Gauteng Social Development MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi at Protea Hotel by Marriot – OR Tambo International Airport, in Kempton Park on Wednesday, September 16.
Clr Madihlaba said during the past two years and during 2020 in particular, the country was shocked at the gruesome and horrific killings of women and children by men who were supposed to protect, care and support them.
“Their ordeals still resonate through the minds of South Africans and the families of the women and children are still trying to come to terms to deal with the barbaric way in which their loved ones were murdered. It is chilling account of what our society has become.”
“This situation has been getting worse for years. In 2018, women in the country started the #TotalShutDown Movement and marched during August of that year. This March was against the unprecedented and high levels of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide that was plaguing the country. Consequently, and in response to the mounting calls from women’s groups, civil society organisations and the public regarding the abuse of women and children, the President convened the First Presidential Summit on GBVF on 01 and 02 November 2018.”
“This Summit identified key interventions to address, not only gender- based violence and femicide, but the wider challenges women and children face in regards to safety and security, poverty and access to economic opportunities and the contestation of their rights in a society where patriarchy and chauvinism are still widely prevalent. The Presidential Summit yielded a positive outcome that resulted in the drafting and approval of the National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence and Femicide 2020-2030,” said the MMC.
He further said “As we meet today, we are here to remind ourselves of the difficult work ahead, and to honour the victims of GBVF. The main purpose of the candlelight memorial ceremony is to commemorate the memories of the victims of Gender-based Violence and Femicide who lost their lives in the hands of intimate partners and strangers.”
Provincial police to take stronger action on GBVF cases
Among the participants who paid their homage was the SAPS Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Lt. General Elias Mawela, Adv Tshilidzi Ramathikithi from the Department of Justice, the Commissioner for Gender Equality, Mr Mbuyiselo Botha, members of the civil society and faith based organisations.
The commemoration was observed under the theme: To seek Justice / Ensure victim’s rights / Inspire hope.
Speaking to families of victims of GBVF, Lt. General Mawela said he stands before them with a heavy heart, not only to offer a message of support but to reaffirm their commitment as the South African Police Service (SAPS) that they will continue to take a stand against gender-based violence and femicide.
“We will continue to prioritize the investigations on all crimes committed against women and children and other vulnerable groups,” said Lt. General Mawela.
“To the best of our ability, we want to ensure that justice is served,” he added.
The murder rate in South Africa is the highest with an average of 58.4 murders per day in the country as witnessed between April 2019 and March 2020. An increase of 1.4% from the previous reporting period. Sexual offences increased by 1.7% with sexual assault offences by 4.2%. Contact crimes also increased by 0.7%.
The above statistics therefore concludes that there is more that needs to be done in order to win the scourge of gender-based violence and crime.
The pain suffered by the victims is immeasurable. These helpless, vulnerable and unfortunate victims need all the support they can get from the state and civil society.