Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the public to stand together against gender-based violence.
On Wednesday, Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the further easing of certain restrictions on level 3 of the national lockdown.
After highlighting which parts of the economy would be further opened, Ramaphosa honed in on GBV, which he called "another pandemic" facing the country.
Ramaphosa said as a father and a husband he was appalled at the war being waged against women and children.
"These rapists and killers walk among us. They are in our communities.
"They are our fathers, our brothers, our sons and our friends; violent men with utterly no regard for the sanctity of human life. Over the past few weeks no fewer than 21 women and children have been murdered."
"Their killers thought they could silence them. But we will not forget them and we will speak for them where they cannot. We will speak for Tshegofatso Pule, Naledi Phangindawo, Nompumelelo Tshaka, Nomfazi Gabada, Nwabisa Mgwandela, Altecia Kortjie and Lindelwa Peni, all young women who were killed by men.
"We will speak for the 89-year-old grandmother who was killed in an old age home in Queenstown, the 79-year-old grandmother who was killed in Brakpan and the elderly woman who was raped in KwaSwayimane in KwaZulu-Natal. We will speak for the innocent souls of Tshegofatso Pule’s unborn daughter who had already been given a name, six-year-old Raynecia Kotjie and the six-year-old child found dead in the veld in KwaZulu-Natal. They are not just statistics. They have names and they had families and friends," Ramaphosa said.
He announced that launch of a National Strategic Plan which will guide the country's fight against GBV. He said 13 regional courts have been upgraded into sexual offences courts.
"To support the work of law-enforcement, 7 000 evidence collection kits have been distributed regularly to every police station in the country and there are now over 1 000 survivor-friendly rooms at police stations. Many police, prosecutors, magistrates and policymakers have undergone sensitivity and awareness training, and over 3 000 government employees who work with children and mentally disabled persons have been checked against the National Register of Sex Offenders," he said.
Ramaphosa said legislative amendments have been prepared around, among other things, minimum sentencing in cases of gender-based violence, bail conditions for suspects, and greater protection for women who are victims of intimate partner violence.