Pretoria - The brutal murder of Tshegofatso Pule and scores of other women, including Naledi Phangindawo, allegedly at the hands of their partners, have increased calls for law enforcement agencies to deal swiftly with the perpetrators of such crimes.
These calls were heightened in the Gauteng provincial legislature this week after Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko revealed in her written reply to questions in the legislature that a total number of 5082 gender-based violence (GBV) cases were reported to Gauteng police stations in March and April alone this year.
Mazibuko was replying to questions by the DA’s Refiloe Ntsekhe about the number of cases against women reported since March.
Mazibuko said police have since managed to secure 3373 arrests but only 204 of them were convicted during the same period.
While official Gauteng government figures ended in April, incidents of GBV continued to be reported at various police stations in the country.
The brutal murder of Pule - who was eight months pregnant - has again spurred the police into action after her body was found hanging from a tree on Monday.
Unlike other victims - no suspect has been positively linked to the crimes. Police are, however, following various leads. Pule was laid to rest in Roodepoort on Thursday.
In Western Cape, Phangindawo's ex-lover Mlondi Ntlangule was officially charged with her murder.
Following the release of the Gauteng figures, the DA in Gauteng asked Mazibuko to investigate why there was such a low conviction rate in GBV cases.
Ntsekhe said it was deeply concerning that despite the high number of cases opened, there was a low conviction rate.
“It is either the justice system is failing our people or the police are failing to properly investigate these cases.
“The lack of adequate investigation of gender-based violence cases has resulted in many cases being taken off the court roll due to a lack of sufficient evidence that can lead to prosecution. It is high time that cases of gender-based violence are prioritised to ensure justice for the victims,” Ntsekhe said.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has welcomed the progressive steps taken by the National Assembly to pass two amendment bills to remedy laws which have both had “deeply layered patriarchal effects” on our society.
The amendment bills, namely, Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill and Recognition of Customary Marriages Bill are a series of various legislative amendments and bills which will be placed before Parliament for consideration.
Lamola said as our constitutional democracy evolves, it must expeditiously address toxic masculinity which still exists and simmers at the core of our society.