Deputy President, David Mabuza, wants South Africans to join hands in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.
Mabuza officially launched the five days of mourning for femicide victims and the remembrance of South Africans who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Gauteng, today.
“The whole nation must rise, and mobilise every street, every community, every church, and every family to join the fight against the murder, and violation of women and children by men. Many lives of women and children have been lost as a result of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in our own communities,” he says.
As the country continues to grapple with the scourge – the Deputy President says COVID-19 has also caused unprecedented disruptions and anxieties that are significantly impacting the lives and livehoods of all South Africans.
“While we have made significant strides in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, we are saddened that, as a nation, we have lost many lives as a result of COVID-19. Many families have lost their relatives who have succumbed to COVID-19. We have lost frontline workers who died in the line duty, paying the ultimate sacrifice, while trying to save the lives of others from COVID-19,” he says.
More than 21 000 South Africans have succumbed to the illness, while 772 252 others are infected.
“COVID-19 continues to be part of our lives. We should continue to be vigilant, and ensure that we continue adhere to COVID-19 protocols. The reported rising number of infections remains a major cause for concern for all of us. We should continue to behave responsibly to save lives, and avoid any possible resurgence of COVID-19 infections that may result in further loss of lives.”
Mabuza has called on all South Africans to wear a black armband or any other sign that signifies mourning during the five days.
“During this period, the National Flag will be flown at half-mast throughout the country from 6am to 6pm,” he says.
Yesterday, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, launched the Inter-Ministerial Committee on gender-based violence campaign in Pretoria.
Nkoana-Mashabane called on South Africans not to turn a blind eye when it comes to gender-based violence.
Also yesterday, Minister of Police Bheki Cele revealed that 8 000 rape cases were reported to the police in the second quarter of 2020.
Cele said the majority of women were raped in their homes or at the homes of perpetrators.
Wits University student, Wendy Manjeya, has called on the Police Minister to dig deeper in solving the crisis.
VOW FM listener, Palesa Mohlamme, says 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children hasn’t solved the gender issues that are crippling the country.
Women’s financial dependence on men is one of the factors cited as reasons for them to sometimes stay in abusive relationships. In a bid to solve this, government has reiterated its commitment to setting aside 40% of public procurement for women-owned businesses, under the theme women’s economic justice for a nonviolent and nonsexist South Africa.
However, gender activist Lebo Ramafoko doubts this will reach the women who need empowerment. Speaking on VOW FM’s Area Code, Ramafoko said it would be best if the government could also give details on who the benefactors of such deals would be. She’s concerned that the deals could be directed to women who are already empowered – further marginalising the poor.
Gang violence has reared its ugly head in Osizweni, in KwaZulu-Natal.
The crime led to the deaths of six young people in the area recently.
Residents took to the streets last month, demanding an end to the trend.
They are concerned that more and more children could end up being part of gangs.
Police Minister Bheki Cele led a ministerial imbizo in the area on Tuesday.
National Police Commissioner General Kehla Sitole was also there.
He raised concerns that gangsterism in Osizweni is also affecting schools and about criminal activities in the local police station.
He says the imbizo was aimed at ensuring the protection of young people and the entire community.
Sitole says the SAPS national office is committed to working with the community to eradicate crime in the area.
He says they suspect the gangsterism that has plagued the area is part of organised crime that includes drug trade and human trafficking.
“SAPS wants to work with all departments, other organisations and the entire community.”
He encouraged the community to work with police, the community-policing forum and the youth to join programmes geared at empowering them.
Residents are worried that if left unattended, the gangsterism could lead to more bloodshed.
They accused the police of working with gangsters. They called for action on the matter instead of talk shops. They also want to be allowed to discipline some of the youngsters who are terrorising the community – a request, which is against South African laws. Taking the law into one’s hands is illegal in the country.
Some of the residents have suggested that the department of social development steps in and investigate why children are joining gangs and determine the kind of help they need.
They complained about having one police station, the lack of trust in the police, a slow response to criminal reports as well as shortage of police officials and vehicles.
Cele suggested that councillors hold meetings with the community monthly to discuss issues affecting their respective wards and update residents on programmes of the local municipality.
He urged parents to take responsibility of their children and train them well so that they become responsible community members.
Cele says school safety also needs to be prioritised.
“Children also must be safe from teachers. Teachers must stop impregnating young girls.”
The Minister says an inspectorate and the secretariat from his office need to probe the allegations levelled against Osizweni Police Station so that they can chart a way forward.
He says while there are rotten apples within the police service, some police officers are doing excellent work – urging the community to not only be hard on police officials but also deal with the corrupt elements within the society.
Seven of the victims died on the scene of the tragedy, while another succumbed to injuries in hospital. One of the victims is recuperating.
The murder shocked the nation with some residents of Gugulethu and other gang-riddled townships of the Western Cape taking to social media, venting their frustrations.
MEC Albert Fritz has said he suspects the Gugulethu shooting to be extortion-related.
He says: “Reports have shown that the Guptas and the Boko Haram gangs in townships such as Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Philippi East, and formerly ‘coloured’ townships are targeting our community members, local businesses, ECDs, and even government officials. It is for this reason that I am calling on Minister Cele to urgently convene this steercom and ensure it meets.”
Fritz says the setting up of the transversal steering committee on organised crime and extortion was agreed upon during a meeting with the Minister in September.
“It would draw in the province, City, SAPS, NPA, SARS and other relevant stakeholders to specifically address the issue of extortion in the province. At the end of the meeting, names were provided by the City of Cape Town and Provincial Government of officials who would attend the first meeting of this committee. This steering committee to address the issue of extortion has never met and has not been convened.”
Minister Cele is yet to respond to the request.
He engaged with the community of Langa on policing matter over the weekend.
Residents complained about the Langa Police Station’s alleged ineffectiveness in dealing with gender-based violence and the harassment of citizens by gangs who demand protection money, among other issues.
Cele appealed to community members to report corrupt and complacent police officers.
He said while there are still no arrests on the Gugulethu shooting, a plan to deal with extortions in the province has been drafted and the government will be funding it.