After days of call to action culminating in a protest of thousand to Parliament in Cape Town, President of the Nation, Cyril Ramaphosa has broached the topic on everyone’s lips – South Africa’s high rate of femicide and gender-based violence.
During a live speech to the country, Ramaphosa said: “Let us declare that enough is enough”.
This is the phrase women and allies across the country have adopted, following the brutal murder and rape of 19-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, horse show rider Meghan Cremer and boxing champion Leighandre Jegels.
“These killings have caused great pain and outrage because acts of such brutality have become all too common in our communities,” Ramaphosa said.
One of the President’s proposed steps to deter gender-based violence is to release the registry of the country’s sex offenders, but many are dissatisfied at what are being called Ramaphosa’s “vague” solutions.
“I will urge Parliament to amend legislation so that the National Register of Sex Offenders is made public,” the President said.
He also proposed that harsher jail sentences be introduced to offenders found guilty of rape and sexual abuse. “A life sentence must mean a man who perpetuates violence against women must be in prison for life,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that 92 dedicated Sexual Offences Courts have been established since 2013, and 11 more opened during the current financial year to improve the rates of conviction and support systems to sexual assault victims.
“Many women’s organisations have complained that there are not enough rehabilitation programs in our prisons,” the President said. “These programs will be increased and reconfigured to reduce the number of repeat offenders. All gender-based violence cases that have been closed or that were not properly investigated must be reviewed. We will strengthen the emergency teams at provincial level – with bring together police, social development, health, justice and education – to continue providing rapid and comprehensive responses to all forms of violence against women.”
Ramaphosa also announced that other systemic challenges will be addressed, including the backlog of cases, delays in DNA testing and the common problem of the availability of rape test kits at police stations.
“We will use every means at the disposal of the system.”