On this Women’s Day, we are supposed to be celebrating freedom, but we should bow our heads in shame as our provincial government has failed the women of Gauteng, who are still the biggest victims of rape, murder, assault, and serious crimes.
The recent crime statistics showed an increase in crime against women, with a 48% increase in women being murdered, a 72% increase in attempted murder against women, 16,5% increase in rape, 37% increase in sexual assault and a 138% increase in contact sexual offences against women.
For a period from January 2022 to March 2022, at least two women were murdered every day and one woman was raped or sexually assaulted every hour. This is a tragic situation, where we should be mourning the suffering on a day that should be used for celebrations.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has in recent months as part of the #DAGautengPoliceWatch campaign visited various police stations, and part of this campaign is to inspect the Victim Empowerment Centers (VEC) at the stations.
The majority of these VECs are not funded by the department, and those which are functioning, are because of the funding and support received from NGOs.
At the Jeppe Station, the VEC did not even have a private ablution facility, a bed or a private interview area, whereas in Sophiatown, the VEC had a private ablution facility, but the light was filled with water, which is a safety risk.
Furthermore, in Soshanguve, there are also no private ablutions nor a bed and in some stations, the room was cold, dark, and impersonal with a lack of resources.
Rape does not occur during business hours, and these centers should be open 24 hours, yet due to the lack of resources and support from the Department of Community Safety, it is impossible for the police to keep these centers open for 24 hours.
Utterances by Minister Bheki Cele, “luckily they were only raped once” is a clear indication that crimes against women are not prioritized nor does the budget speak to these elements.
We need to find tangible solutions, for the police not having the resources to equip the centers as well as do a proper investigation as to why crime against women are on the rise, and why these crimes result in very few prosecutions.
The DA believes that the Department needs to open to a whole society approach, where experts, NGOs, faith-based organisations and various other stakeholders take up their hands together and be allowed to assist.
These VECs should be opened for “adoption” where communities and stakeholders can assist with the resources, operations and facilitation of support and assistance to victims of crime.
The DA calls on the MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko to establish a GBV advisory committee, with the task to investigate and interrogate crime trends against women and children within Gauteng.
The committee will also identify hotspots, challenges and contributing factors.
This committee should consist of experts in the field, both from the community safety department, police force, social workers, NGOs dealing with GBV and other relevant expert stakeholders.
We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to gender-based violence and the rising crime stats against women in our province. We need to get to the root of the problem and find tangible solutions.