'Justice system failing women in townships' as murders surge
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.
“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.
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 in Roodepoort, west of Joburg, with multiple stab wounds to her chest.
The next day, another body of a 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 Potelwa.
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.
"What 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 somewhere.
"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 yesterday.
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.
Spokesperson 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.”