Remarks by Honourable Premier RM Mtshweni-Tsipane on the occasion of the launch of 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children Abuse
26 November 2021Programme Director;
Honourable Members of the Executive Council;
Esteemed Honourable Members of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature;
Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Inkhosi S.G Ngomane;
Distinguished Executive Mayor of Nkangala District Municipality, Cllr Leah Mabuza;
Our host, the Executive Mayor of Emalahleni Local Municipality, Cllr Linah Malatjie;
Senior government officials led by the Director-General Mr. Makhukhu Mampuru;
The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service, Luietenant General, Semakaleng Daphney Manamela;
Umphakathi wa se Klarinet;
- Programme Director, before we continue with proceedings of the day, may I request your indulgence in affording us an opportunity to dedicate a moment of silence to all victims of gender based violence….may their souls rest in eternal peace.
- Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be with you today as we raise our hand as a Province and join the rest of South Africa in advocating against the scourge of violence against women and children.
- Indeed, the sixteen days of activism for no violence against women and children is a significant period in our Province and across the nation. It is during this period where we proudly and loudly reaffirm our commitment to creating a society that is safe and secure for women and children.
- We observe this period acutely aware of the pain our communities endure when we lose another woman to the pandemic that is gender based violence.
- Countless children have lost mothers and communities have lost leaders due the rampant war waged against the pillars of our communities and our homes.
- Just a few weeks ago, a female army officer was stabbed to death in her home in Komatipoort. The woman’s partner is a prime suspect and police have launched a manhunt.
- This incident was preceded by the murder of a mother of two children in Buffelshoek Trust in Bushbuckridge allegedly by her partner who has been remanded in custody.
- These two cases are just examples of the unacceptably high levels of crime against the most vulnerable members of our communities.
- The South African Police Service crime statistics for the period April to September 2021 for the Province of Mpumalanga reflect a worrying upward trajectory of crimes perpetrated against women and children.
- The statistics reflect that a total of 4148 cases were opened for a wide variety of crimes against women, including;
- 84 murder cases;
- 716 rape cases;
- 72 sexual assault cases;
- 25 attempted rape cases;
- 1302 assault with grave bodily harm cases; and
- 1862 common assault cases.
- In the same 6 month period a total of 1021 cases were opened for a wide variety of crimes against children.
- These statistics should make all of us introspect and ask ourselves, what are we doing to arrest the moral decay of our society?
- The norm across the world is that every society is bound by a moral obligation to protect its women and children.
- Even animals make an effort to protect the weak among them. To them seeing their young ones subjected to any form of danger is unacceptable.
- The question that must be posed is: If animals find it unacceptable to abuse their young ones, why is it that some among us derive pleasure from seeing their own flesh and blood in pain? Has the human race degenerated to levels that are below that of animals? Buphi Ubuntu bethu na? Bo kai botho barona?
- What happened to the spirit of ubuntu that has been the hallmark of our society for many centuries? What happened to the respect and admiration that men used to have for women since time immemorial? Luphelephi uthando lwethu na?
- Have we, as a society, lost the sense that children are our future and need to be protected at all times? We all have a moral and legal responsibility to help expose those who harm the most vulnerable in our society.
- If we do not urgently address this scourge, history will never absolve us for allowing these painful occurrences under our watch.If we do nothing about this scourge, we will condemn our women and children to a life of fear and prevent them from being productive members of society.
- Programme Director, I am encouraged that in the year of uMama Charlotte Maxeke, we observe the 16 days of activism under the theme “moving from awareness to accountability”. It calls upon all of us to join hands and collectively defeat this stain on our moral fibre.
- Ours is a moral responsibility to instil a culture that dictates 365 days of no violence against women and children. Regardless of what they are wearing, regardless of where she chooses to be, we must emphasise that no man has a right to go beyond the word “NO”.
- We must also ensure that perpetrators of violence against women and children are prosecuted and incarcerated. We have heard the cries of our people regarding the long delays between the opening of a case and the delivery of a verdict in a court of law.
- Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General ManameIa, I am glad that you have joined us today. May I kindly urge you to expedite the issue of increasing the number of Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units across all Police Stations in the Province, especially in problematic areas such as Kabokweni, Pienaar, Embalenhle, Emalahleni and KwaMhlanga. This will form part of the initiatives to stop the scourge of Gender Based Violence in our Province.
- Programme Director, in the week ahead, I shall meet the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. The same way that we urge Lt. General Manamela, we will request the Minister to increase the number of sexual offences courts in the Province, especially in rural areas, so that we may increase the rate of conviction and ensure harsher sentences against the perpetrators whilst addressing the challenge of inaccessibility of courts to women in rural areas.
- By giving women and child abusers harsher sentences, our courts will relay the message to these abusers that there is no place for such in Mpumalanga and in our country. Those who commit atrocities and murders against children must be subjected to incarceration without eligibility for parole.
- The reality that we must collectively confront is the reluctance on the part of some victims of violence to come forward and report abuse because of the victim’s financial dependency the abuser.
- Our police stations are usually the victim’s first hurdle in bringing perpetrators to book. Days of SAPS members urging victims and their perpetrators to solve their problems “at home” are over. There is empirical evidence (ubufakazi obuphathekayo) that such an arrangement exacerbates abuse and usually results in the death of the victim.
- Provincial Commissioner and MEC Shongwe, I urge both of you to inculcate a culture of compassion and sympathy amongst our police officers. Please take decisive action against those who refuse to help the most vulnerable in our communities.
- We will also embark on a province wide communication drive to ensure that the marginalised cohort of our society has an understanding of their rights, the elimination of social stigma around domestic violence.
- Programme Director, it is our responsibility as a Provincial Government to ensure that victims of crime against women and children have access to sensitive care and support that augment the long journey towards healing.
- We shall continue to strengthen the provision of psycho-social support services, by increasing the number of trained Social Workers to aid the victims’ recovery process.
- This will be augmented by the rollout of more Khuseleka one stop centres which will provide trauma counselling and psychosocial support, legal services and shelter for victims of abuse.
- As I conclude, Programme Director, I wish to emphasise that the safety of our women and children is everybody’s responsibility. uBukhosi across the Province, Civic Organisations, faith based organisations, community groups must contribute to the development of safe and secure communities for all our people.
- In honour of the victims of violence against women and children, we must work tirelessly towards creating safe and secure communities.
- Let us protect our women and children, let our gift to the next generation be that of a community anchored in the values of Ubuntu and the respect for the dignity and the right to safety for all who call Mpumalanga Province, their home.
- I thank you.