Despite plans to end violent crimes against women, children the scourge continues, says Cyril Ramaphosa

A file picture of activists in Mamelodi protesting against gender-based violence. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

A file picture of activists in Mamelodi protesting against gender-based violence. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 2, 2022


Pretoria - Perpetrators of violent crimes against women and children continue despite numerous plans put in place by the government and civil society to end the scourge.

This was the admission of President Cyril Ramaphosa during his address at the second Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVFM) at the Gallagher Convention Centre yesterday.

The meeting was exactly four years to the day since a pledge was made to work together to end the violence that men perpetrate against women and children in South Africa.

Ramaphosa said it was at the first summit in 2018 that they collectively made a firm commitment to the nation to undertake a comprehensive, effective and united response to GBV and femicide.

“We agreed to develop a National Strategic Plan to guide our national response, to co-ordinate the various sectors involved in the fight against GBV, to strengthen the state’s response, and to align the efforts of government, the private sector and civil society.

“We decided to embark on a number of interventions to deal with GBV and femicide in our country,” Ramaphosa said.

He said their first step was the development of a GBVF Emergency Response Action Plan in 2019.

“I requested Parliament’s presiding officers to call a special joint sitting to announce the action plan. The plan was embraced by members of Parliament representing all political parties.”

Ramaphosa said that was a significant moment in that GBVFM was seen as a non-partisan matter on which all political parties demonstrated their preparedness to act together.

That was followed by the release in April 2020 of the National Strategic Plan, carefully drawn up together with civil society.

“Yet, despite our efforts, violence against women and children continues unabated in our country. Data from the SAPS shows sexual offences and rape increased by 13% between 2017/18 and 2021/22.”

Ramaphosa said between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 there was a 52% increase in the murder of women, and 46% increase in the number of children murdered.

“Not a day goes by without a story in the newspapers, on TV or online about a woman or child that has lost their life or been abused in the most horrendous manner.

“Since the rape and murder of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana in 2019 sparked mass marches around the country, there have been many more women killed by men.

“Since then, the nation has been horrified by the brutal violence that took the lives of Tshegofatso Pule, Nosicelo Mtebeni, Hillary Gardee, Namhla Mtwa, Dimpho Skelenge and many other women.

“Innocents like Asithandile Same, Tshimologo Lotshabeng, Tazne van Wyk and Reagan Gertse have fallen victim to heartless criminals.”

Ramaphosa said just as the country was reeling from the news of a gang rape of a group of women in Krugersdorp, the country was confronted with the news of the murder of 4-year-old Bokgabo Poo, who was dismembered and her body parts thrown into a field.

“Just as babies are not being spared, even the elderly have become targets of violent men. We have in recent times seen a spate of rapes and killings of elderly women, our mothers and grandmothers that are meant to be respected and treated with dignity.

“These horrors defy comprehension. There are really no words for them,” Ramaphosa said.

He said all horrendous crimes told a story about a society that is deeply disturbing.

“It is a story of a nation at war with itself. These barbaric acts are a shameful indictment of the men of this country. It is not women who are responsible for ending such crimes; it is men.

“As a society, ending violence against women and children cannot be anything but our foremost priority. This is about the lives of our country’s women and children. There can be no greater urgency.”

Ramaphosa said that was why all who are attending the summit must be focused on action and results. He urged the summit to review some of the action plans adopted and act with speed to deal with the perpetrators.

“In January this year, I signed into law three key pieces of legislation, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act and the Domestic Violence Amendment Act. These new laws afford greater protection to survivors of GBV,” he said.

“This summit must look at what is working, what is not and what is needed to make a difference.”

The summit ends today.

Pretoria News