South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, says, a comprehensive strategy is being developed to tackle gender-based violence and femicide. This is even as government is moving into the second year of National Strategic Plan.
“As we move into the second year of the National Strategic Plan, we are focused on strengthening accountability at all levels of government and society.
“We are developing a comprehensive national GBVF prevention strategy, including evidence-based social and behaviour change programmes,” the President said while responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.
“If we are committed to working together as a country – as government, communities, civil society, organised labour, business, academia, traditional leaders and the faith community – we will succeed in ending violence against women in South Africa,” he said.
This comes after the President, in his State of the Nation Address in June 2019, committed himself to strategies aimed at effectively tackling gender-based violence and femicide.
The Emergency Response Action Plan was implemented to further strengthen the fight against gender-based violence and femicide, and provide justice for the victims and survivors.
It was a short-term plan implemented over six months through partnerships between civil society networks, government, development partners and academic institutions.
The National Strategic Plan on GBVF was approved by Cabinet in March 2020.
The plan, the President said, builds onto the Emergency Response Action Plan, and focuses on improved accountability, responsiveness to the needs of survivors, addressing impunity and driving a comprehensive prevention agenda.
“We are beginning to see positive results through various joint interventions. In February 2021, we launched the private sector GBVF Response Fund, where an initial amount of R128 million was pledged.
“Legislative reform has been a critical component of the National Strategic Plan,” he said.
Last week, the National Assembly passed three bills, namely, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill; Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill.
These three Bills are now on their way to the NCOP.
“I would encourage the NCOP to carefully consider these three important Bills with a sense of urgency, within the legislative mandate of the NCOP. We have introduced several innovative initiatives to facilitate access to support and justice.
“This includes a SMS notification system for applications for domestic violence protection orders, which was launched at all district courts in January 2021,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, once passed, will make it possible for complainants to apply for protection orders online.
“Thirty-two regional courts are ready for designation as Sexual Offences Courts. There are plans for the establishment of six additional Thuthuzela Care Centres.
“As at March 2021, all police stations had the necessary sexual assault DNA kits to assist victims and survivors,” said the President.
South Africa has a Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC), which operates under the Department of Social Development.
The centre operates a national, 24hr/7days-a-week call centre, with social workers responsible for call-taking and call referrals.