The gruesome murder of four-year-old, Bakgoba Poo, who was discovered dead and parts of her body mutilated a day after her disappearance in Wattville Ekurhuleni on October 11, 2022 has once again put the spotlight on GBV and the failures of Ramaphosa to root out the scourge of GBV and sexual offences against children and women.
Two weeks ago a 20-year-old man, Sifiso Mkhwanazi, was arrested for the murder of one of six women, whose bodies were found decomposing at his father’s panel besting business in Selby, Johannesburg.
On Wednesday, the man accused of the murder of the Bakgabo appeared in court while on Tuesday, Mkhwanazi made his second court appearance at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court following the discovery of the six bodies of women believed to be sex workers.
Action Society has put the blame of GBV and sexual offences at the doorstep of Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola with the interest group reporting that at least three children were murdered daily in South Africa with 549 children having died in the first half of 2022.
The failure by the Department of Justice to implement a resolution to establish specific offices to deal with GBV incidents is an indictment on the lack of compassion by the department.
According to Action Society’s Kaylynn Palm , it has been three years since it became law that statutory sexual offence courts must be established and resourced accordingly to deal with the scourge of GBV which in 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted as another pandemic inside a pandemic.
Action Society said nothing has come of that commitment made by both the president and the minister of justice.
Palm said that this delay lay in the amendment of the Criminal Law(sexual offences and related matters) Amendment Act, 2007 (Act 32 of 2007) which gives Lamola jurisdiction to designate where these courts should be established.
“Survivor’s and victims of sexual offences face not only the secondary trauma of an attack when they report a crime but so have to suffer even further trauma when they have to deal with a court system not set up to deal with their specific situation.
“It is a terrible indictment on the Department of Justice. Victims of sexual offences should not have to suffer because of bureaucratic red tape and failure of the minister to do his work, ” she said.
The department has acknowledged that there are serious backlogs in cases before the court with more than 5 000 cases related to sexual offences pending between April 2021 and February 2022.
It is reported that during this time, 2 700 new cases were registered in the middle of a case laid of 16 781 DNA backlog with 6 000 of these being sexual offences. The interest group said it blamed the minister for this.
“Action Society places the responsibility for the failure to afford justice to victims of sexual violence and sending a message to the perpetrators of these crimes that they will not face justice at the feet of minister Lamola,” Palm said.
Ramaphosa received blame from civil society after he paid lip service to the scourge of GBV during his State of the Nation Address. This after the president had promised to deal decisively with the scourge the previous year.
Stats SA said that the prevalence of physical and sexual violence had decreased.
“A larger proportion of females felt unsafe walking alone at night in their neighbourhoods compared to males,” said StatsSA.
In September last year, Ramaphosa highlighted the deaths of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Janika Mallo, Ayakha Jiyane and her three little siblings.
“These killings have caused great pain and outrage because acts of such brutality have become all too common in our communities,” Palm said.