Release Date: 05 September 2019
To: Editors, Producers and Reporters
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has serious concern around the state of the violence against women and vulnerable groups, and general lack of decisive action by the state on matters pertaining to Gender Based Violence (GBV). Given the current state of affairs, and the long history of GBV in South Africa, the CGE within its legislative mandate expects the government under the leadership of His Excellency, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa to a make decisive call for action in light of the perpetual crisis of GBV in South Africa. The Commission calls on government to take decisive action in addressing the structural and systemic failures of the criminal justice system, particularly policing and prevention.
Beyond statements, press releases and condemnation we need the following solid commitments from the President if he is serious about tackling the crisis, we have around GBV:
The CGE calls a swift conclusion of unresolved cases of GBV in various courts, especially those that have been in the system for more than 12 months with no end. Based on our court monitoring processes we have observed the long delays of GBV cases. We expect to hear the President commit to opening courts on a 24-hour basis in order to provide speedier redress due to the urgency and pain of cases that are not finalized.
The CGE is calling for the rollout of specialized courts that deal specifically with matters relating to GBV. It has been said that there are almost 100 specialised sexual offences courts, this should be increased in light of the current crisis. It is urgent that the Office of the Chief Justice must sign the regulations in relation to these courts, as the delay is preventing existing courts from functioning at all.
The CGE is calling for the President to capacitate, resource and enable the National Prosecution Authority to optimize its response to GBV related cases. In several provinces, senior public prosecutors are ill equipped and inadequately supported to deal with the heavy load of cases before them.
The CGE believes that government alone cannot quell the scourge of GBV as it requires partnerships with civil society, faith based organisations and community groups that seek to change mindsets on a short- and long-term basis.
It is concerning that the Ministry of Women, Youth, and People Living with Disabilities (DWYPD) has yet to finalize the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBV. Despite the urgency of the GBV Summit Resolutions, this shows that the state is not serious about curbing these phenomena. We urgently need the President to hold the DWYPD to task and finalize the NSP by the end of this month with a costed budget.
The necessary fiscal allocation required the CGE calls on the president to make a firm commitment in the MTBSP statement. The CGE has noted that in both the SONA and the Inauguration the President of South Africa, His Excellency, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa made statements relaying the importance of solving the GBV crisis. However, both occurrences are without budget allocations, by implication, showing the lack of prioritization. In addition, CGE expects that government should initiate a monitoring framework to measure the effectiveness of curbing GBV by the state in order to measure that impact.
We expect the President to support shelters that are temporary havens for those affected by GBV. Our recent Shelters report finds that they are inadequately resourced, with very poor infrastructure, and places where secondary victimisation often occurs due to government failure to monitor the conditions in their facilities. CGE calls on the President and the Ministry of Social development to audit the shelter facilities and cost the resource requirements, and within the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement to make firm commitments on their rehabilitation and resourcing.
The CGE is also calling for the better funding of Thuthuzela Care Centres which play a vital role in the providing a one-stop service for survivors that reduces the secondary trauma experienced by survivors.
The CGE will look into the statement made by the President with keen interest in order to ensure that other means of addressing of GBV are taken into account. The CGE reminds the populace that South Africa is a country that hinges on principles of human rights as well as the rule of law. We urge communities who wish to advance their rights of protesting to adhere to the rule of law in the process of seeking justice. South Africa needs a healing campaign that will focus on the victims who need support and counselling.