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Femicide in SA: Are these the solutions?

UCT students left flowers in memory of the rape and murder victim Uyinene Mrwetyana, a first year film and media student. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

UCT students left flowers in memory of the rape and murder victim Uyinene Mrwetyana, a first year film and media student. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Sep 3, 2019


Cape Town - Amid the outrage and sadness over 19-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana's rape and murder and the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa, we have gone in search of solutions to this crisis.

Here are some of the suggestions: 

Community activist Roegshanda Pascoe

"We need specialised courts to deal with gang violence and the violence against women and children.

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"The justice system is failing South Africans. The law has to be changed. Why can the police only act after the fact and not before. When a person threatens you and says I am going to kill you, this is a criminal case. In SA it’s not a criminal case until the act has happened."

"When a person has committed a murder, he has revoked his human rights. When he rapes, he revokes his human rights as a law-abiding citizen. But the message out there is a criminal can do what he wishes and he has even more rights than I have."

Feminist writer Jen Thorpe who edited Feminism Is.

"Violence against women, including the murder of women, is something that has been a problem in South Africa for an extremely long time. In the past two years alone, more than half a million South Africans, the majority of them women, sought protection orders against an intimate partner. Sexual offences statistics also show no sign of declining, and we know that many survivors choose not to report at all. We also know that violence against women is often perpetrated against them by someone they know. There is no simple solution to this type of violence because it is fundamentally located in patriarchal views and structural inequality in South Africa. It is a long journey because this is not a problem that has arisen suddenly from nowhere.

"The state needs to begin investing in programmes that prevent violence in a significant, coordinated, and deliberate way. We need to acknowledge that we must break the cycle of violence at many points - by ensuring that children don't witness or experience violence, by ensuring that there is rehabilitation for offenders, by ensuring that there are sufficient safe places to exit violence partnerships before the violence can escalate, by addressing toxic masculinity and patriarchal gender norms in this country in schools, tertiary education, in the private sector, in civil society, and in government. We all have to play a role.

"At the same time, it is also vital that the specialised response services that do exist (like the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units at police stations, the Thuthuzela Care Centres, and the Sexual Offences Courts) are victim-centred, well equipped and well funded, and have sufficient human capacity. "

Kas Naidoo, relationship coach:

"Traditionally men have been our providers and protectors while women were the nurturers and home makers. In the last few decades, women have had to step up and join the workforce to either supplement the family income or be sole providers. It is really sad when a man misuses his masculine energy to hurt, rape or murder a woman because he has lost touch with his true nature. 

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"It is an inner weakness and loss of faith in himself and his abilities that moves him to use physical strength to dominate someone who is physically weaker. The loss of internal power causes him to seek power externally. Let us also remember that there are men in this world that are still admirably playing the role of provider and protector and we need to acknowledge and appreciate these men and sincerely hope that the rest will strive to follow their example."

Mary Hames from the Gender Equity Unit:

"Femicide isn't a once-off thing, the violence happens over a period of time... our own families and friends usually know about it. 

"To stop this, victims should speak out - approach the police, legal system... we should all have the courage to speak about it."

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Yvonne Wakefiled: Founder of The Warrior Project:

"The femicide epidemic needs to be addressed at a number of different levels - individual (victim and perpetrator), relationship/family, young children and teens, community and society. Whilst The Warrior Project aims to assist victims, we are aware that specific interventions are urgently needed for each of the other levels to achieve a measurable improvement. The first step on all these levels is to have conversations. Only once the topic is regularly spoken about can change begin. 

"However, at their core, each intervention would need to focus on: gender equality education; the reversal of violence normalisation; and the encouragement of open dialogue."

Sifiso Zulu: a 42-year-old man from Mpumalanga

Maybe it will be better to do seminars for boys and men on how to treat women and girls and invite celebrities and other well known people to do talks about that then encourage boys and men to go to church.

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The reason for using celebrities is because sometimes people will hear them better than when pastors speak or politicians on certain issues.

Pamela Padayachee of the 1WomanPact, an organisation that empowers women in KwaZulu-Natal:

"We need to have stricter law. We need to have an example made. We not calling for the death penalty as we are against it but we need harsher laws and some solid consequences for their actions. It is repetitive because people who into Correctional Services system are not dealt with in an effective way are six months down the line released and part of society. We need to have consequences. There needs to be a system that says, 'if you do this is what you are going to face'".


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