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'Justice system failing women in townships' as murders surge

Sibongiseni Gabada, 36 Picture: Supplied

Sibongiseni Gabada, 36 Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 15, 2020


Cape Town – As Africans prepare to commemorate Youth Day under the banner, “Youth Power, Growing South Africa together in the period of Covid-19”, the country is reeling from a spate of brutal murders of young women and children.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said there had been a surge in gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide since the country entered level 3 of the lockdown.

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“It is a dark and shameful week for us as a nation. Criminals have descended to even greater depths of cruelty and callousness. It simply cannot continue,” Ramaphosa said.

He said he will deploy ministers and deputy ministers to meet community leaders in all districts across the country as part of national efforts to combat Covid-19, and during these visits will be engaging with communities on this upsurge in gender-based violence.

The Khayelitsha family of Sibongiseni Gabada, 36, have demanded justice after the man suspected of killing and hiding her body was released and subsequently rearrested at the weekend.

Gabada’s badly decomposed body was found hidden under planks outside her boyfriend’s shack in H Section on May 29.

On Saturday, a 28-year-old man was also arrested for the murder of Altecia Kotjie, 28, and her 7-year-old daughter Raynecia, of Delft.

It was believed the mother was stabbed multiple times and her child drowned in the bathroom on Friday. Her boyfriend is expected to appear in court today, charged with their murders.

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Earlier this month, the brutal murder of Mossel Bay’s Naledi Phangindawo, 25, who was hacked with an axe, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, shocked the nation.

On Thursday, eight months pregnant Tshegofatso Pule, 21, was laid

to rest. She was found hanging from a tree

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in Roodepoort, west of Joburg, with

multiple stab wounds to her chest. 

The next day, another body of a

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young woman was found dumped

under a tree in Dobsonville, Soweto. 

Western Cape police

spokesperson Novela Potelwa said a

Lingelethu detective in the Gabada

murder investigation on Saturday

night traced and re-arrested a

34-year-old suspect in Khayelitsha. 

“The suspect was released after

the withdrawal of charges in court

on June 8. He is in custody. The

arrest follows a decision by the

National Prosecuting Authority

(NPA) to review the withdrawal of

charges against the accused,” said


The suspect is expected to appear

in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s

Court today. 

NPA spokesperson

Eric Ntabazalila said: “The NPA has

decided to review that decision

as a matter of urgency. We have

also requested an urgent further

investigation to be done on the

case. We will advise the family and

the public once we have made our

decision following the review.” 

Gabada’s 27-year-old sister

Nomathamsanqa said yesterday that

their worst nightmare came true

when they saw the suspect walking

free last week. 

“The smell of rotting

flesh and the boyfriend’s alleged

confession to his friend led to the

gruesome discovery. I believe if he

had not told anyone, he could have

disposed the body somewhere. 


we did not understand with the

courts and the justice system is if

they did not have enough evidence

that he killed her, why not arrest

him for hiding her body. 

“The investigating police told us

they are still not sure how she died

because the body was decomposed.

However, in his confession he claims

he had left her on May 24 and went


"When he arrived on

May 26 he found her dead in bed,

panicked, wrapped her in a blanket

and stuffed her in the bed. 

“We are still angry and want

answers. We want bail to be

denied. We don’t want to see him

back in our community again,”

Nomathamsanqa said, adding

that her sister had been dating the

suspect and friends alleged he was

abusive and controlling. 

An online petition calling for

bail to be denied for Phangindawo’s

alleged killer, Mlondi Ntlangulela,

received close to 14 500 signatures


Ntlangulela, 34, made a

brief appearance in the Mossel Bay

Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on

a charge of murder. The case was

postponed to June 17 for a formal

bail application. 

The father of two

of Phangindawo’s children remains

in custody in a correctional facility

in George. Phangindawo’s funeral is

expected to be held tomorrow. 

Parliament’s presiding officers,

led by Speaker Thandi Modise and

National Council of Provinces

chairperson Amos Masondo, added

their voices to the outrage. 

Parliament would continue to

intensify its oversight to ensure all

interventions against GBV were

realised, including implementation

of the decisions of the presidential

summit on GBV, overhauling and

modernising the national register of

GBV offenders, resolving problems

relating to the backlog of cases and

delays in DNA testing, and ensuring

availability of rape test kits in police

stations, they said. 

Advocacy group Ilitha Labantu

said the justice system was failing

women in townships. 


Siyabulela Monakali said: “We

appeal to the justice system to play

a greater role in the prosecution

of perpetrators of violence against

women because far too often our

justice system has failed our women.

 “The death of one woman is a

death too many. We strongly urge

the justice system to reinstate the

case so that a thorough investigation

can be conducted and proper

court processes can be allowed to

take place until those who have

committed this atrocious crime can

be brought to book.”

Cape Times

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