President Cyril Ramaphosa lights the Torch of Peace and unveils the National Pledge. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Cape Town - Violence against women was both a shame on South Africa and a betrayal of African values, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday as he launched the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children in Lephale in Limpopo. 

"This crisis of violence against women and children is a great shame on our nation," Ramaphosa said. 

"It goes against our African values and everything we stand for as a people. We grew up being taught that as men and boys we must respect women and protect children. We were taught to never, ever raise your hand against a woman. But we have lost our way," he added. 

He then proceeded to list a the names of six-year-old Boitumelo Matsekoleng from Serageng village, who was raped and killed last month, 11-year-old Thandi Mampane from Ga-Marishane village who was abducted and killed and Mphephu Sophie Vukeya, 59, from Muswana village, who was attacked while collecting firewood and who died in hospital in June after being raped and beaten. 

He said their attackers had no regard for human life, and abused children and grandmothers, boys and girls.

"We are here today to unite under the theme: 'Enough is Enough.' Because we have truly had enough."

Ramaphosa said the emergency action plan the government launched in September, when there were protests against femicide at Parliament, with R1.6 billion in reprioritised funding, was being implemented successfully.

The plan aims to implement behaviour change campaigns, strengthen the criminal justice system, create more economic opportunities for women and improve access to justice for victims, it includes reforms of existing laws around bail and sentencing for perpetrators of gender-based violence, which the president said was underway.

Ramaphosa, who said he received weekly briefings on progress in rolling out the plan, said some of the work done since September included plans to open three more Thuthuzela Care Centres for victims and restoring four properties in Pretoria that will open as shelters in the first week of December.

In Eastern Cape, a "100-day rapid results approach" has been implemented to process cases of violence against women, and it will also be piloted in North West and Limpopo. 

In January, Ramaphosa added, a tracking mechanism will be introduced to clear backlogs at forensic laboratories on gender-based violence cases.

"National and provincial 24-hour call centres to deal with complaints against [SA Polie Service] SAPS and legal officers in matters of gender-based violence are up and running, and we have achieved our target of attending to all complaints within seven days," he said. 

The police have consigned 321 recruits to undergoing basic training in child protection units and trained nearly 4,500 of its members on providing services to survivors of gender-based violence.

African News Agency/ANA

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