Policy review on death penalty could be on cards amid outcry over gender-based crimes

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Sep 4, 2019

Share this article:

Pretoria News - MPs were visibly emotional during the annual debate on Women’s Day, expressing fury over the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, by a post office worker after she had gone there to pick up a parcel.

Following the murder of the UCT student, women took to social media and spoke out against their abuse - either physically or emotionally - by men.

They talked on Twitter about their lived experiences under the hashtag #AmINext, #DearMrPresident, #BringNatashaHome and #MenAreTrash.

A man, 42, who allegedly killed Mrwetyana, appeared in court on Monday on charges of murder, rape and defeating the ends of justice. He is accused of luring her to the post office after working hours, raping her and bludgeoning her to death with a scale.

A probe has been launched into how the man got a job at the post office despite having a criminal record.

East London boxer who had nine victories in her career, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, was shot and killed by her policeman lover at the weekend. The man has since died in hospital.

World Health Organisation statistics show that South Africa’s femicide rate was 12.1 per 100000 in 2016. This is almost five times higher than the global average of 2.6 per 100000.

UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against gender-based violence.

President Cyril Ramaphosa joined the leagues of people condemning the killing of women and children and called it “a very dark period for us as a country”.

Ramaphosa said: “The assault, rape and murder of South African women are a stain on our national conscience. We have just commemorated Women’s Month. Sixty three years after the women of 1956 marched for the right to live in freedom, women in this country live in fear - not of the apartheid police but of their brothers, sons, fathers and uncles. We should all hang our heads in shame.”

Higher Health and the SA Union of Students have challenged men in the higher education space to speak up against abuse.

“We challenge the men to reject being part of social circles that condone the culture of sexism and patriarchy. To report men suspected to have committed crime and violence against women. To demand accountability and to help instil respect and positive values and emotions in a new generation of boys and younger men.”

This was echoed by Universities South Africa chairperson, Professor Ahmed Bawa, who said: “This tragedy is a clarion call for all men in our society to take a stand and be counted. Prioritising sexual gratification over human dignity and life borders on serious psychological dysfunction. When that happens as often as in this country, it should become a matter of national concern.”

SA Local Government Association spokesperson Sivuyile Mbambato said: “This senseless killing of Mrwetyana confirms that the fight against gender inequalities and for respect for women’s rights is still a far-fetched dream. Until the day when women can walk freely in our streets and even jog in the evening without having to watch their backs in fear of being kidnapped and raped, the freedom we claim to have is meaningless.”

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said government could consider amendments to the law and a review on the death penalty to clamp down on violent crimes including the killing of women and children

He said he would take some of the proposals to the Cabinet today. Lamola and Minister of Women Maite Nkoana- Mashabane were last night briefing the media on the spate of killings of women in the past few days. Nkoana-Mashabane said it was time to put an end to gender-based violence and femicide.

Asked if government would consider a referendum on the death penalty, Lamola said this was a matter for discussion. Nkoana-Mashabane said: “The murder of these two young women remains a stark reminder that the women of South Africa are not safe, either in their homes or in the streets.” 

Pretoria News

Share this article:

Related Articles