By Iliya Kure
Director at Department of Justice and Constitutional Development ,·Advocate Praise Kambula, has called on South Africans to become agents of change that will end the cases of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in the country.
Kambula was speaking at a webinar on Wednesday hosted by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on localising the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) to end GBVF, which will strengthen the fight against GBV at local level.
She said accountability starts at an individual level “if we are serious about changing the criminal justice system”.
The webinar was led by the NSP on GBVF Pillar Conveners and Ambassadors of the 100-Day Challenge currently being piloted as a means to fast-track localisation. The 100-Day Challenge will be launched on 12 April 2022.
The National Strategic Plan is a government and civil society multi-sectoral strategic framework to realise a South Africa free from gender-based violence and femicide.
It recognises all violence against women (across age, location, disability, sexual orientation, sexual and gender identity, nationality and other diversities), as well as violence against children.
The NSP centres on six pillars, namely accountability, coordination and leadership; prevention and rebuilding social cohesion; justice, safety and protection; response, care, support and healing; economic power, and research and information management.
Kambula is a convenor of pillar three: justice, safety and protection, which sets out to address the systemic challenges that have resulted in an inadequate response to the management of GBVF cases, particularly domestic violence, sexual offences, child homicide, human trafficking, and other related matters.
She said the purpose of this pillar is to open up the criminal justice system and look at all the blockages and issues that exist within the system, which makes the fight ineffective and not have the impact it is expected to have.
“The NSP promotes multisectoral engagements and collaboration towards rooting out this beast from our homes, streets and communities. Pillar 3 ambassadors have already collaborated with social workers and civil society organisation providing psychosocial services. The door is still open for more people to join in and support.”
Kambula emphasised that the focus is on ensuring that the country has a criminal justice that is more responsive and collaborative with communities.
“There can be no success in any place without the participation of eyewitnesses who are in communities and the evidence from the victims. We need them in order to have a successful criminal justice system,” she said.
Kambula bemoaned the age of GBVF perpetrators, which is “getting younger by the day”.
She said while the number of femicide cases has been decreasing, an increase in sex crimes has been recorded, particularly among children.
“In 2020/21, we saw a 22% increase in cases of rape perpetrated by children, and the youngest of those was 10 years old and the oldest was 16 years of age. This is deeply concerning. This has proved that the issues come from the children’s families.
“If we want to beat GBVF we need to come up with interventions that will help us to rehabilitate families. There is no child who is born a criminal, it is a learnt behaviour and we as parents we need to do something,” she said.
During the same period, Kambula said the country experienced a 60% increase in child pregnancy, and the courts registered an alarming increase in sex crimes of 76.3%.
“There is something we need to do as a country to rectify this. The top three charges that were registered in our courts against children were rape, with an increase of 22%; assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at a 16% increase, and the third one being murder at an 8% increase, which was the most shocking and disturbing,” Kambula said.
Matsetsebale Tleane, convenor of pillar two: prevention and rebuilding of social cohesion, said this pillar sets out to turn the tide of GBV by focusing on eliminating the social acceptance of all forms of violence against women, children and LGBTQIA+ persons.
“Strategic areas of intervention include achieving strengthened delivery capacity in South Africa to roll out evidence-based prevention programmes, including the development of a comprehensive national prevention strategy.”
Tleane said interventions will further include behaviour change and social norms within key groups as a result of the rollout of prevention interventions.
In July last year, the Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, handed over the NSP on GBVF Year 1 Implementation Report 2020/21 to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The report documents the efforts of government, supported closely by the Multi-Sectoral Collaborative Platform, in realising the outcomes of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF.