Exclusive: Survivors of GBV reveal how SA's justice system failed them

Exclusive: Survivors of GBV reveal how SA's justice system failed them

- Briefly.co.za talked to three survivors of abuse in light of a spate of horrific incidents in the country recently

- Three victims opened up about their painful experiences with the very system that's supposed to protect them and seek justice

- Three women are killed by their partners daily in South Africa, while one in five women in low-income areas have experienced physical violence

- Meanwhile, South Africa’s femicide rate is five times higher than the global average

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By Lwazi Nongauza - Freelance Journalist

Femicide in South Africa is a daily threat. One-time hyped-up cases - such as the senseless murders of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Tshegofatso Pule, Reeva Steenkamp and Karabo Mokoena - temporally bring the country to a standstill. However, in the long run nothing tangible seems to come from the tragedies.

It is for that reason that some gender-based violence victims and relatives are convinced that judiciary and law enforcement institutions honestly only attend to socially-elevated femicide cases.

Celeste Adams, 31, from Cape Town is one of those who believe that gender-based violence crimes will never be resolved in South Africa because rich or popular perpetrators are never punished for their gross gender abuse.

According to Adams, the very fact that several well-known celebrities have been implicated in gender-based violence incidents without being punished for their alleged crimes is enough proof that "the justice system does not care about the poor unknown GBV survivor like me".

Adams said:

"My personal experience of trying to find justice for being raped never yielded any good results but instead I had countless incidents of secondary victimisation from the supposedly right government institutions.’’

Xoliswa Shange, 32, from Kimberly's Biyela said that populist slogans, hyped-up protests and unrealistic summit resolutions will never solve anything - only harsh, long-term prison or life sentences will help:

‘’Police and unrealistic political promises have proven to be useless. In fact, all those things traumatise us even further.
"They are more like secondary victimisation tools that we as survivors no longer want. Harsher, longer prison and life sentences are the only solution that we (as GBV) survivors have been calling for, for the longest time.’’

A 21-year-old social change driver, Hlubikazi Sanqela from Alice, believes that as long as South Africa does not have a proactive practical strategy, the country will not win the GBV war:

‘’The justice system continues to be reactionary and in favour of the perpetrators instead of the victims. There are more than enough laws and GBV-fighting institutions, but implementing those laws is what has always been the challenge.
"Implementing the November 2018 Declaration of the Presidential Summit Against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, particularly Resolution 17 and fast-tracking all outstanding laws and bills that relate to GBV, is the only solution.’’

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In one of his Daily Maverick articles, Professor Omphemetse Sibanda argued that the law on gender-based violence must be given teeth

‘’Our attitude and that of our courts should be that in GBV, offending behaviour makes the offending more serious because it represents a violation of the trust and security that normally exists between people in an intimate or family relationship.
"There may be a continuing threat to the victim’s safety,’’ said Sibanda.

While addressing the nation and announcing the easing of lockdown regulations, President Cyril Ramaphosa said government is working hard to address the scourge of violence against women and children.

A few days later, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, established an Inter-Ministerial Committee Council (IMC) to eradicate Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in South Africa.

Briefly.co.za recently reported that in the recent and horrific case of Tshegofatso Pule, an unnamed 31-year-old man was arrested by Gauteng police for the murder.

The brutal murder of the 28-year-old pregnant woman had caused immense pain in Mzansi after the expectant mother was found stabbed and hanged in a veld.

Police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza had confirmed that the suspect was caught while returning to the province from Mpumalanga.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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