GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE CONTINUES UNABATED: A CALL TO ACTION DURING FREEDOM MONTH

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By Precious Mupenzi

  • Despite legislative efforts, gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide persist, undermining women’s rights to safety and life.
  • Recent cases, including the brutal killing of Bianca Khuzwayo by her boyfriend, highlight the alarming brutality of these crimes.
  • Legal reforms and awareness campaigns have not stemmed the tide of violence, demanding a comprehensive societal response to safeguard women’s lives.

As we observe Freedom Month, it can not be ignored that it is not yet Uhuru for South African women as the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide continues to spread in the country like wildfire.

More concerning is the gruesome manner in which these shock-inducing acts of violence are carried out.

Recently this month, a video of a woman who was stabbed and killed by her boyfriend in Durban was widely shared, the video was allegedly taken by the perpetrator and he sent it to the woman’s friend.

Metro police officer Sizwe Ngema, 27, recently appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court where he faced allegations of murdering his girlfriend, Bianca Khuzwayo, 23, at their flat.

Despite our progressive Constitution as well as Policies around GBVF, this type of crime continues to plague our country infringing on the rights of women, a basic right to life.

It would seem that perpetrators are not afraid of the repercussions of their actions, the brazenness of Ngema to take a video of his vicious act is proof of this. 

Ngema took videos and pictures of the woman taking her last breath and sent such to several people, including posting them on social media.

Even with amendments to legislation aligning with the Criminal Procedure Act to enforce minimum prescribed sentences for violent crimes, women continue to fall victim to fatal attacks perpetrated with excessive force.

This month Mhleli Lindley Ndaba, who is currently out on R20 000 bail alleged to have stabbed and killed his fiancée, Dima Phohlo, in front of their children aged 3 and 5 years is set to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

Phohlo was stabbed repeatedly even after she had run out of their home onto the streets in broad daylight in front of bystanders.

Also, in April, Mlamuli Micheal Qaba is to appear in the same court as Ndaba charged with the murder of his girlfriend Zama Girlie Mthembu whom he allegedly stabbed 23 times.

The judiciary certainly can’t be blamed because we have seen it hand down life terms of imprisonment in cases of femicide.

These cases mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg, they are in one city of South Africa’s nine provinces where in all of them women and children seem to be under attack from strangers as well as men they know and even love.

The latest crime stats show that 1,135 women and 285 children were murdered between October and December 2023.

The issue is no longer a judiciary and policing matter, it has become a thorn in our budding democracy that needs addressing by everyone.

The government has several programmes and awareness campaigns to mitigate the violence against women and children, some of which take a holistic approach to tackling how boy children are raised, their psycho-social well-being, and looking at the social ill of substance abuse.

And yet this is not enough to make a tangible impact to dampen the scourge, how do we wholeheartedly embrace and observe Freedom Month when the basic right to life is snatched from so many women?

All views expressed in this opinion piece are of the writer and not the Department of Social Development.

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