Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Pretoria: Government has strongly condemned gender-based violence and femicide following the brutal killing of three women in the Eastern Cape, North West and the Western Cape, as well as other incidents not featured in the media.

In a harrowing incident, the mutilated body of 23-year-old Nosicelo Mtebeni was discovered in a suitcase in East London last week.

Her boyfriend, Alutha Pasile, was subsequently arrested and – according to the National Prosecuting Authority – confessed to her murder.

In the two other cases, 29-year-old Palesa Maruping was found hanging from the ceiling of a house in Khuma Location near Stilfontein in the North West, while Pheliswa Sawutana, 32, was allegedly strangled to death with shoelaces in Kosovo informal settlement in Cape Town.

In a statement, government said the fight against gender-based violence and femicide remains an ongoing one.

“These heinous crimes against women sadly happened during Women’s Month, when we should be celebrating women’s contribution in society and reflecting on some of the challenges they continue to face.

“These brutal acts of violence against women are a stark reminder that the ongoing fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) is nowhere near the end. The recent Crime Statistics released by the South African Police Service confirm the extent of the challenge we continue to face in securing the safety of women in the country,” government said.

Government Communication and Information System Director-General, Phumla Williams, bemoaned the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide – especially during Women’s Month.

“This has been a dark and brutal Women’s Month, marred by brutal violence against women. Whilst we continue our efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, GBVF is rearing its abominable head as the second pandemic that is destroying the fabric of our society.

“Whilst the call for justice to be served for these women is key, we also call on responsible men to lead the fight against GBVF in our communities,” Williams said.

Government interventions

Government has allocated at least R21 billion in support of the fight against gender-based violence and femicide to drive the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP), which seeks to put an end to the scourge.

“Since the launch of the NSP last year, 32 regional courts have been designated as Sexual Offences Courts in various parts of the country and about 3 500 investigating officers received specialised training on Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual crimes.

“Twelve public buildings have since been renovated and repurposed to be used as shelters and police stations have been capacitated with sexual assault evidence kits,” government said.

Currently, there is legislation before Parliament which will see the tightening of cases related to domestic violence issues, such as denying offenders bail and sentencing them to long prison terms.

Government also called on South Africans to contribute positively in the fight against GBVF.

“As peace-loving and law-abiding South Africans, we must all – individually and collectively – contribute to the safety and well-being of women in our country. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa affirms the right to life and safety for all people.

“It is our innate responsibility to support and help create a non-violent environment for all women. We need to prevent and stop the violation of women’s rights. Law-enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system alone cannot stop these senseless murders,” governement said.

It reiterated the call for the respect of women’s rights, and their autonomy and agency.

“Let us all create the change we want to see, and men have the duty to lead the fight by respecting and accepting decisions made by women, irrespective of tradition, culture and institutional settings.

“The power is in our hands to empower women. Government departments continue to ensure financial inclusion of women through their procurement plans,” government said.

To obtain assistance and counselling on GBVF matters, call the GBV Command Centre on  0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). Callers can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.