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Ramaphosa announces government plans against sexual offenders, murderers

President Cyril Ramaphosa says scores of men have been arrested in the past week for gender-based violence.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says scores of men have been arrested in the past week for gender-based violence.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a government plan to fight against gender-based violence. Ramaphosa announced his plan yesterday in the wake of protests and calls for harsher actions against perpetrators of sexual violence following the rape and murder of several women in recent days.

His plan includes convincing parliament to make public a list of sexual offenders, harsher minimum sentences and a life sentence that actually means life sentence.

As it stands in South Africa, a life sentence is capped at 25 years in prison when discounting eligibility for parole.

“We agree with women of our country that the state should oppose bail and parole applications for perpetrators of rape and murder against women and children. A life sentence must mean a man who perpetrates violence against women, rape and murder that they are in prison for life,” said Ramaphosa.

He said as per requests from women in the country, he would seek an amendment to the registry of Sexual Offences Act to make it public.

This would allow women to know at all times whether a man they are interacting with has been accused or found guilty of sexual violence. “We are going to overhaul and modernise the national register of gender-based violence offenders provided for in the Sexual Offences Act to ensure effective in combating gender-based violence.

The national register of offenders will list all the men who are convicted of acts of violence against women and children. I will ask parliament to amend legislation to make the register public, I will propose to cabinet that all crime against women and children should attract harsher minimum sentences,” said Ramaphosa.

These measures follow the recent rape and killing of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, allegedly by a Post Office employee, as well as the murder of female boxing champion Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels by her estranged policeman boyfriend, which have caused an uproar.

Dozens of women protested outside the World Economic Forum venue in Cape Town on Thursday, calling for Ramaphosa to announce immediate plans in the fight against gender-based violence.

Ramaphosa said cases of sexual violence that were not investigated properly would be revisited.

“All gender-based violence cases that have been closed or that have not been properly investigated must now be reviewed.”

“We will strengthen the emergency teams at a provincial level which bring together the police, social development, health, justice and education to continue providing rapid and comprehensive responses to all forms of violence against women.

These emergency response teams will focus in particular on violence directed at women, children and other marginalised groups including the LBGTQIA+ community and people with disabilities.

He said that there are other systemic challenges that would such as:

  • The backlog of cases,
  • Delays in DNA testing,
  • The availability of rape test kits in police stations

“We will use every means at the disposal of the state, from the police service to the justice system, from social development programs to our school curriculum, to strengthen all parts of our national response to gender-based violence. We will implement a national multifaceted plan to prevent gender-based violence through schools programmes, community initiatives and workplace policies,” he said.

He said minister of finance Tito Mboweni would be asked to allocate additional funding to the campaign against gender-based violence.