Bredasdorp - A call for special courts that deal only with cases of abuse of women and children has been made by Women and Children Minister Lulu Xingwana.
Speaking outside the Bredasdorp Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday where two men accused of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen appeared before magistrate Graham Cupido, Xingwana dismissed calls to reinstate the death penalty for rapists.
The death penalty was against South Africa’s democratic values, she said.
“It is against our ethos of human rights. We believe in the human rights of all people and believe the courts are the body that should be given the authority to ensure the law takes its course.”
She said, however, that there should be no bail for the suspects and called for the maximum sentence “for a heinous crime”.
“I am shocked… that they cover their faces. From whom are they hiding?” she said.
Xingwana urged the government to pump more money into special police units and wanted the establishment of special courts that dealt only with cases of women and children abuse.
“Gender-based violence robs women of the opportunity to become productive citizens of the country. It denies them their constitutional right to safety and condemns them to a life of perpetual fear,” she said.
A task team was looking at what resources were needed to reopen the sexual offences courts, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.
“Following recent cases of sexual violence in the Western Cape and other parts of the country, Minister (Jeff) Radebe decided to give an update on the work done by the task team he established last year to look into resuscitation of the sexual offences courts,” spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said.
The task team reviewing the closure of sexual offences courts recommended in December that they be reinstated.
Mhaga said a time frame for this had not been drawn up, but Radebe was treating the matter seriously.
Radebe has previously indicated that sexual offences courts will be reopened soon.
“We want to be thorough in the process of auditing and also allocating enough funds, and also allocating the relevant people with the required skills,” Radebe said.
“People should exercise a bit of patience, but we’re committed to ensuring that the process moves as fast as possible.”
Xingwana told the crowd of about 300 people gathered outside the court to help combat such crimes by reporting “even the smallest suspicion to police”.
“Government cannot win this fight alone.
“If you know of a woman that is being abused, it is your responsibility to report it. The only way to overcome this is with your help.”
Earlier in the courtroom, Xingwana sat next to Anene’s aunt, Elsabe Sheldon, and other relatives.
The two accused were escorted into the packed courtroom with their faces covered with a towel and a jacket.
The court ruled on Monday that their faces should not be shown to the media after the State argued that the publication and broadcast of their faces could jeopardise the investigation.
Cupido postponed the case to February 26 for a formal bail application.