Parliament’s presiding officers, led by National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Amos Masondo, have added their voices to mounting public outrage over ongoing gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide incidents around the country.
“Bold and resolute action, rather than outrage, however, is what our nation needs to change this shocking state of affairs in our country,” they said in a statement on Sunday.
“We know it has festered for too long, shielded by the veils of silence and fuelled by patriarchy and sexism. We know that ending it needs effort from all sections of society, particularly men as perpetrators, in the areas where we live, the places where we work, and from all private and state institutions, including our justice and criminal justice systems,” they said.
The wheels of justice had to turn and be seen to turn swiftly in bringing alleged perpetrators to book and meting out appropriate, harsher punishment to discourage the recurrence of similar offences. But even more important, was ensuring an environment where these crimes against a significant portion of society did not take happen in the first place.
The brutal and senseless killing of eight months pregnant Tshegofatso Pule, 28, whose body was found hanging from a tree with multiple stab wounds, and Naledi Phangindawo, 26, who was also stabbed to death, and many others whose names were not known, underscored the urgency of perpetrators receiving a “fitting sentence that will demonstrate that such heinous crimes have no place in society”, they said.
“We welcome the commitment that members of the executive deployed across the country as part of the national effort to combat Covid-19, will also engage communities about the increase in gender-based violence.”
Parliament would continue to intensify its oversight to ensure all interventions against GBV were realised, including implementation of the decisions of the presidential summit on GBV, overhauling and modernising the national register of GBV offenders, resolving problems relating to the backlog of cases and delays in DNA testing, and ensuring availability of rape test kits in police stations.
“As with our global co-operation to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, so too let us work together as humanity to fight the femicide and gender-based violence still stalking our nation. Together we can build that better world to which so many aspire, for which so many have struggled and died,” they said.
Modise and Masondo also extended their heartfelt condolences to the families of Tshegofatso Pule, Naledi Phangindawo, and all other victims of GBV and femicide whose names may never be known publicly.