Opening remarks by the Premier of Mpumalanga province, Honourable R.M. Mtshweni-Tsipane, on the occasion of the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence

25 November 2023

Programme Director;
His Excellency, the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa , Mr Paul Shipokosa Mashatile;
The Minister of Women, Children and people with disabilities within the Presidency, Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers present;
Members of the Executive Council present;
Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures present;
The Executive Mayor of Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Cllr Jesta Sidell;
Our host, the Executive Mayor of the City of Mbombela Local Municipality, Cllr Sibongile Makushe;
Indlu Yobukhosi led by Undabezitha Kgoshi Lameck Mokoena;
Senior Managers of government led by the Director General Mr Makhukhu Mampuru;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Good Morning,
  1. Programme Director, It is an honour and a privilege to join you and the rest of the nation in observing the 16 days of activism against the societal and moral blight that is gender based violence and femicide.

  2. This is a crisis that continues to rob children of their mothers and communities of leaders.

  3. Ladies and gentlemen, gender-based violence and femicide is an exceptional affront to the spirit and purport of our democratic dispensation and if we do not address it decisively, it will corrode the soul of our Province and our nation.

  4. As we are all aware, South Africa, continues to record unacceptably high levels of gender based violence and femicide.
  5. Unfortunately, Mpumalanga Province has not been spared from the same fate.

  6. According to census 2022, from the 5.1 million people who call this Province home, women constitute 2.39m (50.8%) and Women unemployment rate is at 42.5%.

  7. However, 2023 crime statistics show that women are disproportionately affected by violence meted out by men.

  8. Crime monitoring trends show that we have recorded a sluggish pace in reduction of GBVF incidences in the province.

  9. According to SAPS statistics, sexual offences cases in our Province increased from 641 in March 2022 to 746 in March 2023.

  10. Between the periods January to March of 2022, 641 cases of sexual offenses were reported in Mpumalanga, accounting for almost 6.7% of the national count of reported sexual offenses during the same period.

  11. In 2023, this year the Province accounted for almost 7% of the nationally reported sexual offenses cases.

  12. Of these reported cases, the National Prosecuting Authority’s annual Report indicates that 65% were referred for prosecution, but 34.4% were accepted for prosecution, 18.5% went for trial and of this, only 8.6% were finalized with a guilty verdict of a sexual offense.

  13. This paints a very grim picture of our ability to successfully convict the perpetrators of gender based violence.

  14. Deputy President, our failure to effectively attain a higher prosecution rate for perpetrators of gender based violence is a ticking societal time bomb, that will force our people to take the law into their own hands.

  15. Just under a week ago, the community of Mataffin , roughly 30 km from where we are gathered, took matters into their own hands and burnt Samuel Mangebeletane Tsela who was had charges of allegedly murdering a 5 year old Bontle Mashiyane , provisionally withdrawn.

  16. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the cries for help from the most vulnerable in our communities.

  17. We all have a moral and legal obligation to aid all victims of gender based violence in their pursuit of justice and most importantly to play an active role in their journey towards healing.

  18. We want to reach a point where no woman or child experiences the violence, violation and trauma that accompanies gender based violence.

  19. This government I have the honour to lead is committed to eradicating all forms of violence against women and children.

  20. Currently, over 6 721 victims of gender based violence are receiving extensive psychosocial services from the Provincial government in order to equip them with the resilience and fortitude to remove themselves from the toxicity that breeds gender based violence.

  21. Deputy President, one of the causes of gender based violence is the skewed social perceptions about the roles of girls and boys, and the preconceived notions of how women and men should behave. These misconceptions are onerous on women and inevitably result in women becoming subservient to men.

  22. We must raise boys and girls with the knowledge and understanding that no person has the right to treat them as inferior.

  23. We must create a society that does not support male notions of authority and control over women, and does not tolerate violence against women.

  24. To this effect, this provincial government is finalising its curriculum transformation programme, which will eradicate subtle and overt references to sexism and misogyny in the learning material of our children.

  25. We will also continue to roll out an extensive gender based violence prevention awareness campaigns across the Province. These programmes are aimed at educating communities on the scourge of Gender- based violence.

  26. Ladies and gentlemen, we must be alive to the reality that too many victims of gender based violence are failed by their families and their communities. We have all heard the unfortunate stories where women are forced to withdraw charges against the perpetrators.

  27. Very often families exert the most pressure on women to not press charges against abusers. We must bring this practice to an end. We must ensure that ward councillors across the length and breadth of our Province are privy to the conferment of any charges of gender based violence in their communities.

  28. It must be the responsibility of ward councillors, to rope in social workers to immediately aid victims of gender based violence in their communities.

  29. Families or friends who encourage a victim to drop charges against a perpetrator must be identified and be charged with defeating the ends of justice.

  30. We have heard innumerable stories of women and children being turned away by the police when they go to report a crime. This ultimately leads to very little or no successful prosecution. Our preliminary research points towards the poor training of law enforcement officials which hampers their ability to render a key service to victims of gender based violence.

  31. Working with the Ministry of Police, this government is developing a framework for the capacitation of police officers to ensure that they possess the requisite knowledge and empathy to effectively aid the victims of gender based violence.

  32. We will also continue to invest in the Thuthuzela Care Centres, which are our integrated response to incidents of violent sexual acts against women and children.

  33. Through the Thuthuzela care centres, we will reduce secondary victimisation, improve conviction rates, reduce the cycle time for finalisation of cases and provide psychological support for victims of gender based violence.

  34. As I conclude, Programme Director and in line with the purport and objectives of the 16 days activism against gender based violence, Mpumalanga Province commits to;
    • To strengthening the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF by all social partners;
    • To expand on the call to action for men as partners and boys to stand against the rape and sexual abuse of women and children; and to
    • To increase awareness and drive change in relation to negative social norms and behavior through multiple platforms, sectors and activism including technology, social media, culture and customs, the Arts, journalism, faith-based organizations, private sector, trade unions, sports fraternity, taxi industry, traditional leaders and the youth sector.

  35. We must join hands and arrest the moral decline of our communities by entrenching the values of Ubuntu , common decency and exalt our diverse backgrounds and create a Mpumalanga and a South Africa that mirror our virtues.

  36. I thank you.

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