In the wake of Women’s Month, August, and the #TotalShutdown March against gender-based violence on Wednesday, Police Minister Bheki Cele called on officers to refrain from turning away victims, in particular women, of gender-based violence.
“Police, don’t chase away women who come to report an assault or rape by a boyfriend or a man. Don’t tell them to go back and negotiate. Crime is not negotiated.
“Yours is to help that person, arrest the perpetrators, you are not a negotiator.
“Once a woman comes to the police it is because she fears for her life. If you send her back, she might not come back, and you would think the matter has been resolved, yet she is dead,” Cele said.
The minister said the spate of the deaths of young women at the hands of their former or current lovers could not be denied.
“Please take these cases more seriously if you were not taking them seriously before, and everybody must make sure that our women are protected and all of us put an effort in terms of women and children issues,” Cele said.
Thousands of #TotalShutdown marchers took to the streets across the country to raise the alarm on violence against women, children and gender nonconforming people.
Cele said efforts to make women feel safe should not be confined to Women’s Month.
The minister urged women to contribute towards the fight against gender-based violence because, as victims or would-be victims, women had a clearer understanding of their plight.
“Because men, there are two things about them, they are perpetrators and even more so, they do not know the pain of being raped,” Cele said.
Acknowledging that boy children and men were also victims of rape, Cele said it was common that women would be victimised.
“If somebody is raped, it is usually a man who has raped that person.”
The minister said the police would double up on efforts to curb gender-based violence and, in pursuit of this, work closely with the National Prosecuting Authority and other relevant stakeholders.
A recent case of gender-based violence that made headlines was the shocking murder of Mangosuthu University of Technology student Zolile Khumalo, who was allegedly fatally gunned down by former lover Thabani Mzolo. Mzolo is due back in court on August 29.
Sandile Mantsoe was in May sentenced to an effective 32 years’ imprisonment for the murder of his girlfriend Karabo Mokoena.
Other prominent cases of gender-based violence involved former deputy minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana, who was convicted on three counts of intent to commit grievous bodily harm late last year for assaulting three women, and Kwaito star Arthur Mofokate, who faces charges of allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend.