Jason Felix and Sapa

THE MINISTER of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, has called for special courts to deal exclusively with the abuse of women and children.

Speaking outside the Bredasdorp Magistrate’s Court yesterday where two men accused of the brutal rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen appeared before Magistrate Graham Cupido, Xingwana dismissed calls to reinstate the death penalty for rapists.

She also said the government would not consider castrating rapists as was the practice in certain countries.

The death penalty was against South Africa’s democratic values, she said. “It is against our ethos of human rights.”

“We believe in the human rights of all people and believe the courts are the body that should be given the authority to ensure the law takes its course.”

She said, however, that there should be no bail for the suspects and called for the maximum sentence “for a heinous crime”.

“I am shocked... that they cover their faces. From whom are they hiding?” she said.

Xingwana urged the government to pump more money into the special police units and wanted special courts to be established dedicated to dealing with the abuse of women and children.

Xingwana told the crowd of about 300 people gathered outside the court to help combat such crimes by reporting “even the smallest suspicion to police”.

“Government cannot win this fight alone. If you know of a woman that is being abused, it is your responsibility to report it. The only way to overcome this is with your help.”

Earlier, in the courtroom, Xingwana sat next to Anene’s aunt, Elsabe Sheldon, and other relatives.

The two accused were escorted into the packed court with their faces covered with a towel and a jacket.

The court ruled on Monday that their faces should not be shown to the media after the State argued that the publication and broadcast of their faces could jeopardise the investigation. The courtroom was filled to capacity and journalists spilled over into the area normally reserved for prosecutors and lawyers. The men kept their heads bowed during proceedings.

A relative of the first accused, who cannot be named, said he was convinced the man was innocent because he was close to Anene. “They always hung out together.”

Cupido postponed the case to February 26 for a formal bail application. .