Durban – The provincial government has supported the Police Ministry’s call for a bold new action plan to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide in the province.
Remarking on the recent crime statistics while speaking at the commemoration of International Women’s Day in Mayville yesterday, Premier Sihle Zikalala said he found it to be a “disgrace” that 12 218 people were reportedly raped between October and December 2020.
“I find it to be utterly unacceptable that the crime stats increased by 6.6% and that so many people have been raped. As KwaZulu-Natal, we join Minister Cele in calling for the police to do something extraordinary to arrest the situation and to submit new plans on how they will turn things around at the rape hotspots, like Inanda, uMlazi, and Plessislaer,” said Zikalala.
Further, he said a prevention-focussed approach would be adopted by various stakeholders, in their plan of tackling the scourge.
“Our plan promotes prevention and is premised on these pillars: community mobilisation, moral regeneration, instilling social cohesion, strengthening law enforcement, promoting responsible recreation, reducing alcohol and substance abuse among the youth and students, support for victims and families, and women economic empowerment,” said Zikalala
However, Luba Nadvi, board member at the Advice Desk for the Abused, said political leaders like Zikalala needed to meet more with civil society to get solutions informed by the real situation on the ground.
“In order for this to be truly effective, he and his team need to actually meet with the civil society organisations on the ground, that are supporting the victims and survivors of rape and GBV, with very little or no formal resources.
’’He needs to hear from them what it is that they need to support survivors but, more than that, what they need to prevent the sexual violence from happening in the first place.
“Ideally, the police services, civil society and local/provincial government need to be in regular communication with each other, sharing knowledge and resources, in order for there to be a major impact made in reducing sexual violence.
’’While there are meant to be forums in place where these sectors are supposed to be talking to each other, not much seems to have come of it. More needs to be done and urgently,” said Nadvi.
The provincial commemoration on International Women’s Day also saw the launch of female led initiatives; the uMgogodla Women’s Forum, which are community development initiatives implemented by Child Ambassadors.
Siviwe Mboyana, one of the elected Child Ambassadors, said: “We actually want everyday to be declared a day of activism, because the 16 Days campaign alone is too little to stop women and child abuse.”
Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said men needed to learn to accept rejection.
“We need to go deeper in understanding the deep underlying roots of GBV and femicide. We already know that Covid-19 has magnified existing problems because lockdown measures meant women could not leave their abusive homes and escape men.
’’We also need those victim-friendly rooms in all police stations, as soon as possible,” said the MEC.
Zikalala said GBV was the highest in uMlazi and Plessislaer, and a redress was urgently needed.
“One of the key areas we must focus on is that men must continue to say ’not in my name’ and stop violating women’s rights. Ukuthwala is not a culture and it needs to end,” he said.