UCT students held a night vigil for Uyinene Mrwetyana outside the Sarah Baartman Hall last night. Photo: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Outraged South Africans have clamoured to sign two petitions launched due to the continued violence perpetrated against women and children in the country.

Highlighting the brutal slaying of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, among others, nearly 300 000 people have signed a petition calling for the death penalty to be reinstated in South Africa.

Another change.org petition, which has received more than 150 000 signatures, called on Parliament to declare gender-based violence a state of emergency in the country. 

This petition, started by Laura-Lee Gillion, stated: "In Sierra Leone the president declared 200 rapes for the year a state of emergency. South Africa’s murders against women are currently around 3 000 per year, whilst sexual offences against women are at 50 000 per year.

"Signing this petition will help our government realise the severity of the situation or that we are no longer tolerating this. Gender based violence needs to be discussed and addressed from the parliamentarian level already. 

"Our society has embedded a violence against our women. Our government needs to address this and declare state of emergency."

Bearing the hashtag #NotInMyName, a picket is also set to take place outside Parliament on Wednesday. Community activist Roegshanda Pascoe told the Cape Times women are also intending to chain themselves to fences outside Parliament due to the continued femicide.

On Monday, gruesome details were revealed after a Claremont post office employee appeared in court over the 19-year-old Mrwetyana's rape and murder.

The discovery of the dismembered Lynette Volschenk's body, which had been put in plastic bags, in Bellville almost two weeks ago was another murder which was met with outrage. A 24-year-old suspect, who lived in a flat below Volschenk, has appeared in court.

With women becoming increasingly worried about their safety, awareness of gender-based violence has been raised under the hashtag #AmINext, with women sharing their horror stories and some calling for a national shutdown.