Public servants marching to Union Buildings against gender-based violence. File picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA).
Public servants marching to Union Buildings against gender-based violence. File picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA).

'We're gatvol, it has to stop here' - public servants at femicide march

By Liam Ngobeni Time of article published Sep 27, 2019

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Pretoria - Those who are perpetrators of gender-based violence will face the full brunt of the law as they plan to turn up the heat.

That was the warning given by National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Bathohi who told scores of public servants gathered at the union buildings as they took to the streets to march against GBV and sexual harassment.

“We need to reinvigorate and double our efforts to deal with this scourge.”

“The sad reality is that 100 cases of rape are reported to the police every single day, and  those are the reported cases.”

She said another concerning fact was that 41% of these cases were of children. 

“These are attacks on the most vulnerable people, the criminal justice system needs to send out a warning that we won't stand by and see our women and children being abused any longer.”

“The greatest deterrent to crime is knowledge that there will be consequences, prosecutions and investigations but that is where we are failing. 

“A very small percentage of the cases reported actually result in convictions.” 

She said she had recently met with the national commissioner of the SAPS to moot a strategy on how they could collectively ensure that there is more efficiency.

“We need dedicated people working on them and the people committing these crimes have to face the full brunt of the law. 

“We need to do this together, we look to your support so we are not here in two years time still chanting the same chants. 

Deputy public service and administration minister Sindisiwe Chikunga did not mince her words when she took to the podium. 

“We are gatvol, it has to stop here. Sekwanele (it is enough).”

She said there was a dark cloud hanging over the country and escalating incidents were a big concern and society at large had to play a role in reducing the scourge.

"Last year over 2700 women perished and research shows that 1 in 5 women older than 18 have experienced abuse by their partner."

She said it was a worrying stat, one we ought to be ashamed of.

“We need to ensure that the plan to deal with GBV is implemented robustly.”

According to Chikunga victims still experience high levels of intimidation, and the scourge was not isolated. 

“As public servants we are not immune. Women in the public sectors, our family members and neighbours are victims.”

The buck has to stop somewhere, she said all public servants had to take the issue seriously. 

“We need more awareness and sheer commitment to stand firm against GBV. We want positive gender norms and attitudes.”

Minister Senzo Mchunu also put predators in the workplace in the crosshairs, saying that senior management ought to also stop asking juniors to sleep with them for a promotion.

“You do not have to sleep with anyone for a promotion, you are enough, you do not have to buy any job or promotion.”

He also called for more harsher sentences and efficiency when dealing with GBV and sexual harassment so women are also comfortable in their work environment. 

Clad in black, scores of public servants marched to the union buildings to deliver a pledge against the abuse and killing of women.

Speaking to Pretoria News public servant Motlhabane Sekade said he hopes this is the start of turning around an ugly and frightening attack on women and children.

“We cannot just fold our arms and let this go on, we have to keep sending messages and engaging. I even see the change in judiciary to bring in harsher sentences and I believe this will go a long in reducing the numbers of women and children that dwindle to this senseless violence.”  

He said all forms of abusers and perpetrators should take the message seriously as they are pledging to join in the fight to make the country safer for the fairer sex. 

A pledge was read and signed by the ministers and officials with a torch being lit at the end to seal the pledge. 

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Pretoria News

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