by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – COMMEMORATIONS of Women’s Month in South Africa have tragically coincided with some of the most gruesome killings of these members of the community.
A string of these grisly murders, mostly by the deceased’s partners, suggests the country is losing the war against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).
Despite the billions of Rands the government has allocated to fighting what is now infamously known as the second major pandemic (after COVID-19), these killings continue unabated.
This has resuscitated calls for the death penalty to be reinstated.
The fact that such murders have been perpetrated during Women’s Month (August) demonstrates how arduous the task is for government. Perpetrators are simply undeterred.
Coincidentally, the “second scourge” comes exactly two years into the rape and murder of university student Uyinene “Nene” Mrwetyana (she was 19) in a post office in the coastal city of Cape Town.
This triggered international outrage and wakened the government from its slumber.
In the latest distressing incident, the mutilated body of 23-year-old Nosicelo Mtebeni was discovered in a suitcase and plastic bags in East London last week.
The body, allegedly cut into pieces using a saw, was reportedly dumped on street corner.
Her boyfriend was subsequently arrested.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed the boyfriend confessed to her girlfriend’s murder in the Eastern Cape Province.
In another harrowing incident, 29-year-old Palesa Maruping was found hanging from the ceiling of a house in Khuma Location near Stilfontein in the North West.
Elsewhere, Pheliswa Sawutana, aged 32, was allegedly strangled to death with shoelaces in the Kosovo informal settlement in Cape Town, Western Cape.
This only is a tip of the iceberg.
The government admits there are other murders that have not been featured in the media.
“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,” the government lamented this week.
The administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted it was facing a mammoth task.
“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,” it stated.
Statistics revealed by the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, last week paint a dreadful state of affairs.
Delivering the Quarter One Crime Statistics 2021/2022, the police minister said contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and all categories of assault registered a 60,6 percent increase, compared to the corresponding period of the previous financial year.
Between April 2021 to end of June 2021, 5 760 people were killed in South Africa.
This is 2 294 more people killed compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year.
No less than 10 006 people were raped between April and June 2021.
This is an increase of 4 201 cases from the corresponding period last year.
Sexual offences were among the sub- categories of crimes that Cele said recorded “a never seen before double digit increases.”
This week, Phumla Williams, the government spokesperson, described Women’s Month as dark and brutal marred by violence against the same members of the community South Africa commemorates during the period.
“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,” he stated.
Government provided an outlined some measures it had put in place to turn the tide against GBVF.
The government has allocated at least R21 billion (US$1,4 billion) in support of the fight against GBVF to drive the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP).
The plan aims 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.
A total of 12 public buildings have been renovated and repurposed to be used as shelters and police stations have been capacitated with sexual assault evidence kits.
Legislation that government believes will see the tightening of cases related to domestic violence issues is before Parliament.
“There is no way that we can tackle the scourge of GBV alone as government,” Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, said at a recent launch of a partnership between government and a telecommunications operator against the scourge.
According to United Nations Women, an estimated 736 million women across the world — almost one in three — have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence.
In South Africa, one in four women will experience violence by men and are five times more likely to be killed.
– CAJ News