South Africa: Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane Renews Calls to End Gender-Based Violence and Femicide

The Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane wishes to renew calls to stop gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). The country continues to see unacceptable acts of violence committed on girls and women on a daily basis.

The sad reality is that despite high levels of GBVF, many incidents remain undocumented, underreported and are unaccounted for within national statistics. Even accounted for cases are shockingly high. The 2020/2021 sexual offences statistics are yet to be released by SAPS, however, in 2019/2020 the South African Police Service recorded 53 776 sexual offences. 42 664 of these were rape cases.

Whilst the final figure for the 2020/21 financial year have not been released, existing data has shown that the lockdown levels impacted on levels of reporting. Together the four 2020/21 quarterly crime statistics indicated a total of 46 447 sexual offences. According to the 2020/21 statistics 9 518 people were raped between January and March 2021.

The Department of Social Development GBV Command Centre also showed a dramatic increase in the number of calls, smses and USSDs, with the number of overall calls increasing significantly from 54 849 in 2019/20 to 157 952 in 2020/21 and the number of GBV referred calls increasing three-fold from the previous financial year. This suggests that the lockdown levels impacted on women’s ability to report incidences or seek help through regular channels

The Department of Health reported a cumulative total of 36 363 new sexual assault cases at public facilities for the 2020/21 financial year. This number is not the complete picture as it only covers public facilities.

“These numbers might be difficult to comprehend, or may even seem unbelievable to some, however, just in the past month, we must read stories of sexual assault allegations at UCT, Stories of Policemen in court for requesting bribes to make rape cases disappear, policemen also murdering their girlfriends and wives, stories of murdered children in Limpopo, the story of the man who murdered his estranged wife and dumped her body in a pit toilet. The stories go on and on,” said Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

What is more concerning is that stories are emerging in the media of women who are deciding to drop their cases. The circumstances range from women who are pressured to drop rape and sexual assault cases by their friends to prevent a falling out amongst friends and family members, or women who wish to marry and leave their past behind, or women who can no longer bear the emotional burden of a case that is being investigated for years.