Ramaphosa breaks his silence on gender-based violence

UCT students, high school learners and Cape Town residents have been protesting outside Parliament and the CTICC for 3 consecutive days. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Protestors say that the promises that the President made are not enough to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence.

After being quiet for sometime about the xenophobic violence that is sweeping Gauteng province and the epidemic of gender-based violence, President Cyril Ramaphosa finally broke his silence on Thursday. In a badly pre-recorded message with bloopers flighted by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, President Ramaphosa made several promises to deal with gender-based violence and xenophobia. Protests against the ‘war on women’ rallied around the country in the wake of the rape and murder of 19-year-old University of Cape Town (UCT) student, Uyinene Mrwetyana, in the post office. Also this week, Leighandre Jegels, Janika Mallo, and Ayakha Jiyane and her three little siblings were all killed by men who were close to them.

On Wednesday morning, about 3,000 protestors mainly from UCT, high schools around Cape Town and residents joined together outside Parliament to deliver a strong statement to government that urgent action is needed to stop the extreme and gruesome murder of women in this country. The protestors clashed with police outside the venue of the World Economic Forum where they demanded to be addressed by the President. On the same day, UCT held a memorial service for Uyinene. The service, held in front of the university’s main hall, was attended by well over 5,000 people, all wearing black. Uyinene’s friends and family spoke of how warm and kind a person she was, and how her spirit will continue on. Around the same time, Khayelitsha residents burned the house of her alleged killer.

On Thursday ‘evening’, President Ramaphosa addressed the nation, applying cotton swabs to South Africa’s open wounds saying that government will review laws on domestic violence and that he will ask Parliament to make the national register of offenders public.

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“We are reviewing laws on domestic violence and sexual offences to prioritise the needs and interests of survivors. We are going to overhaul and modernise the national register of gender-based violence offenders provided for in the Sexual Offences Act to ensure it is effective in combating gender-based violence. This National Register of Offenders will list all the men convicted of acts of violence against women and children. I will ask Parliament to consider amending the legislation to make the register public. I will propose to Cabinet that all crimes against women and children  should attract harsher minimum sentences,” said Ramaphosa.

On Friday, Elitsha reporters went to the streets of Cape Town to speak to protestors who were picketing outside Parliament to poll their views on the President’s response.

Lelethu Ceza is a 19-year-old marketing student at Damelin who feels that refusing bail or parole for violent men is not enough. She says that the death penalty should be brought back.

Lelethu Ceza, a first year student at Damelin says she wants the death penalty for violent men

Nthabeleng Doda (24), a CPUT student, says she finds it useless that the measures to toughen punishment of violent men are only going to be implemented in 2020 while the killings are happening everyday.

Shanice Appels, a student with the University of South Africa says that even protesting against violence as women, they were met with violence from the police. She believes that President Ramaphosa is just telling South Africans what they want to hear but will not deliver on his promises.

Sesethu Phokolo, a learner at Cape Town High School (15), says that a person should get a death sentence without going to court. She feels that we are not safe in our communities and in our homes.

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