Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili and Akudo Anyanwu at the WEF on Africa focusing on eradicating gender-based violence. Picture: Chantall Presence / ANA

Cape Town - African leaders needed to "call a crime a crime" and stop adopting a "business as usual" attitude as physical and sexual violence perpetrated against women on the continent continued unabated, the World Economic Forum on Africa heard.

Four experts addressed a briefing at the WEFA on Thursday decried the lack of action in eradicating the scourge of violence as protests continued across South Africa following the death of another young girl - University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was raped and murdered while picking up a parcel at the post office.

Associate Dean at John Hopkins University, Akudo Anyanwu, said heads of state needed to take a position.

"We need to have our leaders come out and call crimes a crime."

Cape Town-based Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, director of NGO African Monitor, decried the fact that government and political leadership was sorely missing during a time of deep pain and crisis for South African women.

"When I say its missing, one of the things that bothers me hugely is how we can continue as if things are normal or its business as usual when we see our ministers at the World Economic Forum, when we see our president here talking about ease of doing business without saying over 50 percent of the consumers in South Africa are women, how are they going to continue churning a productive economy if they can't feel safe," said Mniki-Mangaliso.

"I was speaking to some of my mentees...they are terrified, young women who are saying we terrified we can't study, we can't go anywhere. How are they supposed to be innovators, how are they suppose to produce, how are they supposed to build an economy if they are in a state of frozenness and fear, so no we not hearing a loud enough noise around the issues related to gender-based violence..."

She wants a gender based violence fund to be set up to drive the prevention and intervention initiatives to turn the tide against the scourge.

Mniki-Mangaliso said technology companies should also come to the party, by helping women access an emergency response system when the need arises.

"Why is it not possible for a woman to actually have an app on her phone free of charge that can get her help when she needs help. We have free WhatsApp, why is it that Google and Facebook and those companies have not developed something that can be rolled out across South Africa?"

African News Agency (ANA)