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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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GBV survivor speaks out against failures of the criminal justice system

Ian Cameron, Janelle Laattoe and Lucinda Evans.

Ian Cameron, Janelle Laattoe and Lucinda Evans.

Published Aug 3, 2022

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Cape Town - She was bruised and battered, silenced and endured pain and all forms of abuse since 2018 at the hands of her boyfriend, but has come out a survivor.

This is a story of a domestic violence survivor Janelle Laattoe, who spoke on Tuesday about enduring abuse at the hands of her former partner.

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With Women’s Month in full swing, two civil society organisations, Action Society and Philisa Abafazi Bethu, are shining a light on the country’s criminal justice system, which they said failed to support victims of gender-based violence and femicide, and they gave Laattoe a platform to tell her story.

Laattoe said when she finally dared to open a case against the abuser in 2019, he was arrested. However, she said she had not been prepared for secondary abuse from the “failed criminal justice system”.

In December last year, she said the case was provisionally withdrawn and in January she started demanding her case be put on the court roll, but to no avail.

She said after 15 calls to the Delft police station and “various physical visits”, she learnt that her docket could not be found, with her last statements not digitally captured.

She said she endured court postponement for more than a year while her abuser was left free. She said he went on to abuse three other women.

Laattoe said she was now seeing progress in the case after seeking help from the organisations, who vowed that her story would not “end in vain”.

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Philisa Abafazi Bethu founder Lucinda Evans said nothing had changed for women from the 1956 Struggle to 2022 and it was worse being a woman in South Africa now.

“The women of 2022 are forgotten, not protected and not safe, and the genocide on our vaginas is continuing unabated. President Ramaphosa lied to our faces when he said a rape perpetrator would not receive bail when 20 000 women marched to Parliament in 2019.

“Perpetrators are walking our streets repeating the offences they were arrested for. As women, we need to mobilise ourselves,” she said.

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Action Society community safety director Ian Cameron said the entire criminal justice system had collapsed and the government must admit its failure and start taking effective action to prevent the severe onslaught against women and children.

“But we will continue seeking justice for Janelle and every other woman and child in this situation, even if we have to start from scratch,” he said.

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