Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola has urged communities and civil society to work together with government to fight the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV), femicide and sexual offences.
He was speaking at the opening of a Thutuzela Care Centre (TCC) at the Victoria Hospital in Wynberg on Wednesday.
Thuthuzela Care Centres are facilities that aim to reduce the secondary victimisation of survivors and victims of sexual offences and GBV, improve conviction rates and reduce time cycles for cases.
“If we relegate [the] gender-based violence pandemic exclusively to government on its own, we will not succeed. But if we have everyone in the community raise their hands to uproot this pandemic, then we all take a definitive step forward.
“The socialisation of our children, and in particular the socialisation of boy children, to respect each other to be healthy and active citizens, to take on roles in a non-gender stereotyped manner, is the foundation of addressing social ills and ensuring the mind-set change necessary for social transformation, gender equality, non-racism and social cohesion.
“As the old adage goes for evil to succeed it takes good people to do nothing,” said Lamola.
The Minister said the TCC system serves as a critical gateway to the justice system exclusively created for survivors and victims but acknowledged that much work could be done to ensure even further protection of the rights of victims.
“There is no doubt that this system works. In that same vein we know very well that there is much room for improvement. The fight against GBV does not start in the police station, court room or correctional services cell.
“It starts in the house where men in particular are groomed to treat women in particular like subjects. It is refined in social settings where men gather and socialize.
“It [is] cemented by families who whisper to a survivor to never mention it beyond the family four walls that a relative violated them. As [we] launch this centre today we launch [it] knowing full well that this pandemic can be defeated, not only by the criminal justice system but society at large,” he said.
Lamola highlighted that the TCCs are at the forefront of fighting the scourge of gender-based violence and sexual offences with some 168 049 victims assisted over the past five years.
He said over the 2021 financial year, cases recorded at the TCCs have yielded:
• An increase of at least 42.5% on the number of life imprisonment sentences meted out to perpetrators. 201 of these verdicts were secured during the year.
• Some 24.7% more 20 -25 year prison terms sentences to offenders. Bring the number to 106 for the year.
• At least 378 imprisonment terms of 10 -19 years were imposed – highlighting an increase of 28.1%
• The average conviction rate was 76.7%
• The conviction rate reflects 1033 convictions from the 1346 verdict cases that were finalised
“Today is the final day of Women’s Month, but the launch of this Thuthuzela Care Centre signal the continuation of work against sexual offences. Every day the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] secures a conviction on sexual offenses and gender-based violence throughout the courts of our country. This calls on all of us to fight GBV everyday of our lives. It is a cause we must win as a nation.
“The Thuthuzela Care Centres helps us ensure that everyone committing sexual offense gets arrested, and a conviction is secured and this is the biggest deterrent to crime that everyone knows that if they commit a crime the chances of them being arrested and convicted are very high,” Minister Lamola said.
Source: South African Government News Agency