Dear Cape Town
The Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (DAWN) is saddened and angered by reports today of three new incidents of gender-based violence. A first-year nursing student was abducted outside Tygerberg Hospital and sexually assaulted by unknown men on Tuesday night. We also heard this morning of the brutal murder of a woman in Gugulethu, whose bloodied body was left lifeless, in the middle of a street. DAWN has reached out to this family to offer our support. The third incident involves a woman who was allegedly kidnapped in Khayelitsha and suffered extensive injuries which later led to her death in hospital.
These reports come less than 24 hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed thousands gathered against Gender-Based Violence outside Parliament yesterday. He promised that Government would look into the issue of harsher penalties, that men who rape and kill women must stay in jail for life and that funding would be allocated to increase the aid and support available for shelters. Importantly, he stated that these reforms must be treated by Government and Parliament as an emergency.
At the National Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Summit held last year, the President said that we should “examine” the possibility of introducing a national registry for protection orders; “aim” to reduce the femicide rate of zero per 100 000; and made promises about funding Thuthuzela Care Centres.
These are all promises that should have and could have been implemented with immediate effect. Yet, they have not. And women continue to suffer.
It is clear that there is no more time left for Government to simply ‘look into’ or ‘examine’ the concerns women have, as the perpetrators of these vile acts are clearly not deterred. South African women urgently need the state’s machinery and Parliament to move quickly in implementing the necessary measures needed to curb GBV and prosecute those responsible for it.
The President’s address to the nation last night did not provide any indication of any immediate solutions to the crisis we face. These incidents are indicative that drastic action needs to be taken now, before more lives are lost to this senseless and violent brutality. We need change and we need it now.
There are three main things that can be done immediately to begin making a difference:
- All police stations, across all provinces, need to have their required number of adult and pediatric rape kits in stock;
- The National Sex Offenders Register needs to be updated; and,
- Police officers who fail to assist victims reporting rape or abuse need to be dealt with far more harshly.
South African women have voiced their fears, concerns and anger in protests, marches and memorial services across the country. To ignore the urgency of these calls would be an indictment on our national government.
Women are in pain, they are tired of burying their daughters, sisters, mothers and nieces. Enough is enough, action must be taken decisively and immediately.
By Dr. Nomafrench Mbombo MP
DA Women’s Network Leader