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16 Days of Activism: Rate at which women are assaulted, violated, and killed in SA continues to be disturbing and unacceptable

Gender-based violence and femicide plague Mzansi, but there are ways that women can protect themselves. Picture: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Gender-based violence and femicide plague Mzansi, but there are ways that women can protect themselves. Picture: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Published Dec 9, 2022


South African women have little to celebrate as the holiday spirit sweeps the nation.

The newest crime figures from the SAPS show that thugs frequently target women; between July and September 2022, 1 277 women were the targets of attempted murder, 989 women were killed, and 13 000 women were assaulted with the intent to cause serious bodily harm.

Statistics show that murder rates in South Africa have risen by 38% since 2010.

According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, the rate at which women are assaulted, violated, and even killed in South Africa continues to be disturbing and unacceptable. Shockingly, women are frequently targeted in their own homes, sometimes by individuals they know and trust.

“This indicates that South African women must exercise caution rather than rely solely on the government,” said Seugnette van Wyngaard, head of 1st for Women Insurance.

1st for Women offers the following festive security tips. Picture: Peter Fazekas/ Pexels

1st for Women offers the following festive security tips:

Be vigilant

When leaving or entering your property, keep an eye out for shady vehicles or people, especially after a holiday shopping frenzy. Keep empty gift boxes away from areas where thieves can see them readily. Rather, shred the boxes and conceal them in sacks or bins.

Security barriers at home

It is wise to have a variety of security measures in place, including gates with high-quality locks, an electric fence, an alarm system with sensors, an armed response service, movement-detection security lights, CCTV, intercom, panic buttons, and effective access control, as home invasions peak in the week between Christmas and New Year. Always make use of the security tools at your disposal.

Best home security practice

It's ideal to use access gates that don't require you to exit your vehicle to open them. To make it harder for criminals to predict when you'll be home, change your usual routine. Eliminate anything that could be used as leverage to enter your homes, such as tree branches and garden tools. Verify all credentials. If you know you won't be home for an extended period, notify your security provider or ask a friend or relative to "house sit" for you.

In your car

Keep an eye out for anything unusual and be alert to your surroundings. Use your GPS to stay on course because lost people make for easy targets. If it's possible, install smash-and-grab window security. Purchase a tracking system for your vehicle, preferably one with a panic button. Plan your approach to a traffic signal, especially if it is becoming late at night, to avoid having to completely stop.

Give yourself ample room to manoeuvre your car and prevent being trapped when stationary. Be aware of suspicious vehicles following you, make a couple of false turns if need be, then drive to the nearest police station.

Always park in a well-lit and secure area. When you get home, drive parallel to your driveway in the road as you open your gate, and turn in only when the gate is completely open so you can leave if necessary. Ensure that your driveway area is well-lit.

When walking, jogging, or hiking

Seventy-nine percent of South African women who jog report feeling unsafe. Run in groups for safety in numbers, stay alert and avoid distractions, stay in touch with loved ones and let them know where you're going and what route you'll be taking, vary the times of your runs to make yourself less predictable, carry a whistle, and keep a mobile panic button like the 1st for Women panic button close by at all times.

Kidnapping and abuse

Be wary of strangers, and make sure all the information they offer you about themselves is accurate. Leave Immediately if something doesn't add up. Take extra precautions to prevent drink-spiking, which the TEARS Foundation claims is common in South Africa.

Always be on the lookout for strangers lurking around. Stay focused and be completely aware of your surroundings. Avoid dangerous regions where it's easy to lose contact with familiar faces, and under no circumstances allow yourself to be persuaded by a stranger to enter a remote location. If you need help, make as much noise as you can.

“It’s time for South African women to be fearless, which doesn’t mean living a life devoid of fear, but rather, living a life in which fear doesn’t hold us back. This starts with being aware and adopting a proactive approach to personal safety,” said Wyngaard.

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.