Monday, 13 September 2021
Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa says the approval of three critical pieces of legislation will strengthen the criminal justice system and ensure harsh penalties for those found guilty of GBV.
“These gruesome acts of violence cannot go unpunished. They must strengthen our resolve to end gender-based violence in all its forms. We must strengthen our efforts across all fronts,” President Ramaphosa said on Sunday evening during his address to the nation.
On 1 September, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed three bills – namely the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill – which will change the landscape in terms of how government departments, law enforcement and the courts deal with cases of violence against women and the vulnerable.
The House passed two of the bills – the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill with amendments, and the two Bills were scheduled to be sent back to the National Assembly. The Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, meanwhile, was scheduled to be sent to the President for assent.
In his address on Sunday, the President lamented that Women’s Month witnessed many GBV cases, at a time when the country had planned to celebrate the success of women in many fields.
Among other cases, Fort Hare law student, Nosicelo Mtebeni, was murdered and dismembered in East London; a Grade 1 pupil from Khensani Primary School in Soshanguve was raped in the school’s toilets; Palesa Maruping, was found hanging from the ceiling of a house in Khuma Location in the North West, and Pheliswa Sawutana was strangled to death in Kosovo informal settlement in Cape Town.
“The courts are increasingly handing down judgements for life imprisonment for statutory rape, robbery and aggravating sentences that involve rape.
“We continue to implement all the pillars of the National Strategic Plan against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide. Ultimately, the success of this work depends on the actions that we all take to end this pandemic of violence against women and children,” President Ramaphosa said.
He called on men to understand that the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the country’s Constitution belong to all people, men and women alike.
Social Relief of Distress
Touching on the recent public violence that occurred in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, where a number of businesses were looted and destroyed, President Ramaphosa said government continues to implement measures to assist households, employees and businesses that have been affected by the pandemic and by the public violence.
“Since we reopened applications for the special Social Relief of Distress grant in the first week of August, we have received nearly 13 million applications. Of these, 8.3 million applications have been approved, and payments have started to these recipients,” the President said.
According to President Ramaphosa, just over 3.7 million applications were declined, mainly because applicants have other identified sources of income or are registered for assistance like the UIF and NSFAS.
“Around 845 000 applications are still in the validation process. Along with the other measures we have put in place, this grant is providing critical assistance to unemployed South Africans at this most difficult time,” the President.