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Johannesburg - The shooting and killing of Reeva Steenkamp, allegedly by her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius, has again cast the spotlight on South Africa’s high crime levels.
The incident was the latest in a string of murders and near-killings of women by their husbands, boyfriends or intimate partners.
But it took a murder involving a global icon to remind the nation - and world - about the grave crimes inflicted on women by their spouses.
A North West woman, Neo Moffat, 30, is fighting for her life after her police officer husband allegedly pumped seven bullets into her last Monday. She was gunned while on her way to police to report her husband for violating a protection order.
On Tuesday, a man from Daveyton in Ekurhuleni will appear in the Benoni Magistrate’s Court for killing and beheading his wife Phumeza Madikane, 29, in an alleged muti-related murder. Local Treatment Action Campaign branch member Adelaide Motandare said: “As women, we don’t feel safe even around our own husbands.”
Last month, a Bronkhorstspruit man and former AWB member, Eugene Marais, forced his children to take sleeping tablets before he assaulted and stabbed his wife, Tania, to death. He committed suicide before police arrived.
On Sunday, the ANC Women’s League expressed its concern about “the high level of femicide”.
“The Pistorius incident was not an isolated incident,” league spokeswoman Troy Martins said.
“No women should have to die at the hands of their romantic partner, but research indicates just over 50 percent of all women murdered are the result of intimate femicide, she said, referring to a report by the Medical Research Council of SA. The report indicated that a woman was killed by her intimate partner every eight minutes in this country.
Gareth Newham, of the Institute for Security Studies, said certain brutal cases would trigger a public outcry, but the reality was that it was happening every day. At least 1 500 women were murdered by their husbands, boyfriends or close partners last year alone, he said.
Of these women, he said, 82 percent were shot. In more than 50 percent of cases alcohol was involved.