People from all walks of life are being urged to work with government to fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).
The Government Communications Information Systems (GCIS) plans to localise and fast-track the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBVF at municipal level, while setting the tone for the official launch of The 100-Day Challenge.
GCIS launched the plan in December with the private sector, trade unions and individuals from civil society and other development partners.
The 100-day Challenge would enable collaboration, continuous innovation and fast-track disciplined execution for frontline teams on the ground. The NSP is a government and civil society multi-sectoral strategic framework that is based on six pillars to “realise a South Africa free from gender-based violence and femicide”.
The pillars are 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.
Praise Kambula, chief director at the department of justice and constitutional development, and a convenor of pillar three, said her focus was on the criminal justice system. Kambula said systemic challenges caused an inadequate response to the management of GBVF cases, specifically domestic violence, sexual offences, child homicide, human trafficking, and other related matters.
It was clear there were blockages within the criminal justice system which made it hard to be effective, and it had no impact, as one could expect. An important aspect was to draw communities into the court system in order to have an effective criminal justice function, she said.
“We need to ensure that we have such a system that is victim-centred and collaborative in bringing communities together to participate.”
“There can be no success without the participation of eyewitnesses who are in communities. We need them in order to have a successful criminal justice system.”
Kambula said SA was a country that has become unmanageable with regard to rape cases. She said the age of GBVF perpetrators was, appallingly, “getting younger by the day”.
Despite the number of femicide cases decreasing, there was an increase in sex crimes recorded particularly among adolescents, she said.
“In 2020-21, we saw a 22% increase in cases of rape perpetrated by children. The youngest of those was 10 years old and the oldest 16 years of age. This is deeply concerning. This has proved that the issues come from the children’s families,” she said.
“The problem is in the family and in order to beat GBV we need to come up with intentions to assist in rehabilitating families and their values.
“There is no child who is born a criminal, so it is learnt behaviour and, as parents, we need to do something about that.”
Trauma counsellor and convenor of one of the pillars Tracy Kotzen said the project would include a response case to provide support and healing. Kotzen said the focus was to work collaboratively with government, civil society stakeholders and citizens.
“It is important to find out what healing looks like in a diverse country. Having a research programme will map out what that truly means,” she said.