President Cyril Ramaphosa said that it was the “heaviest of hearts” that he stands before the women and girls of South Africa to “talk about another pandemic” that is raging: The killing of women and children [by South African men]”.
“As a man, a husband, and father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war waged on women and children of our country. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has left us all feeling vulnerable and uncertain, violence is being unleashed on women and children with a brutality that defies any form of comprehension”.
Gender-based violence in South Africa
He added the “women of our country are being raped and killed by men”. In a hard-hitting speech, the president mentioned the victims of gender-based violence by name.
He said that 21 women and children have been murdered over the past few weeks, and reminded South Africans that “these rapist and killers walk among us”.
“They are in our communities; they are fathers, they are brothers, they are our sons and our friends. They are violent men with utterly no regard for the sanctity of human life.”
Ramaphosa also reminded all citizens of the country that is not “alcohol that rapes or kills a woman or children, it’s the actions of men”, and warned that those who look away are “complicit to these crimes”.
The brutal month of June
This follows after President Ramaphosa on Monday 15 June condemned the brutal killings of women and children in South Africa, especially under lockdown level 3.
The president said that it’s a “dark and shameful week” for South Africans, and that “criminals have descended to even greater depths of cruelty and collousness. He continued:
“It simply cannot continue. We note with disgust that at a time when the country is facing the gravest of threats from the pandemic, violent men are taking advantage of the eased restrictions on movement to attack women and children.
The President said he will be deploying Ministers and Deputy Ministers to meet with community leaders in all districts around the country as part of national efforts to combat COVID-19.
Intimate partner violence
Ramaphosa is also concerned that SA has one of the highest levels of intimate partner violence in the world and that about 51% of South African women have experienced violence at the hands of someone with whom they are in a relationship.
“In far too many cases of gender-based violence, the perpetrators are known to the victim, but they are also known to our communities. That is why we say this is a societal matter and not a matter of law enforcement alone”.
The President has urged communities to work with the police and report any tip-offs they may have to the Crime Stop Hotline on 08600 10111 or send an anonymous SMS to Crime Line at 32211, or to call the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre at 0800 428 428.
If you or anyone you know are exposed to sexual violence or assault of any kind, reach out to the TEARS foundation on 010 590 5920 or by dialling *134*7355#. They can also be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org or through their website. Alternatively, locate the nearest centre to you, or contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111, the Gender-Based Violence toll-free number on 0800 428 428, or Childline on 0800 055 555