‘NPA continues to fail women victims of GBV’ – AfriForum
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit said it continues to be inundated with pleas for help from women abandoned by prosecutors.
For illustration. Photo: iStock
As the country acknowledges Women’s Day on Wednesday, AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) “continues to fail women victims of gender-based violence (GBV.”
The unit said it would use Women’s Day to recommit itself to supporting victims of gender-based violence by giving them a voice and guiding them through what it called “a dysfunctional criminal justice system that repeatedly fails the most vulnerable in society.”
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit spokesperson Barry Bateman said the unit continues to be inundated with pleas for help from women who have been abandoned by prosecutors tasked with taking up the fight against their abusers on their behalf
“The most recent complaint has left the office aghast at not only the horrific crimes allegedly committed against a mother in front of her minor child, but also the apparent poor handling of the victim by the National Prosecuting Authority.”
Bateman shared the details of Zakiyah Karim’s brutal attack by her husband Ahmed Paruk.
“During the prolonged attack which took place in her home, Paruk allegedly slashed at Karim with razor blades, beat her with his fists, shaved her eyebrows off and cut some hair on her head, threatened her with an axe and made her parade in front of a window naked.
“He then allegedly pushed Karim to the floor and urinated on her naked body before forcing her to take pills which caused her to black out,” Bateman said.
Bateman said Paruk was arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
“But in April this year, the accused pleaded guilty to assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and admitted to only ‘hit her with fists’.
“The state accepted the plea, and he received only a one-year suspended sentence of imprisonment and committal to a recovery centre in terms of Section 276(1)(e) for a period of 12 months.
“Karim approached the unit when she learnt of this guilty plea, and says she was not consulted on any aspect of a guilty plea or sentence or requested to provide a victim impact statement,” Bateman said.
In a letter to the NPA, head of the unit, Advocate Gerrie Nel, described the sentence as “shockingly inappropriate.”
“If such a plea of guilt, as indicated… is or has been considered or accepted, we would deem it a travesty of justice and consider remedy. We sincerely hope that the NPA has not again proven itself to only pay lip service to its commitment to focus on a case of GBV,” he said.
Bateman said the NPA responded to the letter.
“However, none of the direct questions related to the handling of the matter were answered, and the unit was instead advised to obtain a copy of the court record to establish such information.
“Instead of simply answering questions which could assist a complainant of GBV understanding the process, the NPA referred the unit to its integrity management unit to file a complaint. Again, the NPA only pays lip service to being victim focused,” Bateman said.