‘It’s an insult’: Gender-based violence activists on sentence handed to Thembinkosi Lorch

Activists are livid after Orlando Pirates player Thembinkosi Lorch was handed a suspended sentence for assaulting his then girlfriend.

As the country prepares for 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children, gender-based violence activists have called the sentence handed to Orlando Pirates player Thembinkosi Lorch an insult.

Lorch was on Tuesday handed a suspended jail sentence and fined R100 000 for assaulting his girlfriend, Fundiswa Mathithibala. National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Regional spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said Lorch’s sentence was suspended for five years on condition he is not found guilty of committing a similar offence during the period.

‘It’s a joke’

Speaking to the The Citizen, gender-based violence activist Reverend June Dolley-Major said she doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry after the sentence was handed down.

“It is an insult to the victim for a five year suspended sentence and a fine. It’s like you are in a comedy or something; the judiciary doesn’t seem to realise the effects that violence has on a person. This is unacceptable. It was far too lenient,” said Dolley-Major.

She added that the victim will still be living with the trauma and the fears after the assault.

“It’s not only an insult to the victim but to all victims. So, basically, people can say if you have money this is how you get away with it, you just pay a fine and as long as you don’t get caught again, you are fine. It is also difficult for victims to report the matter because they don’t really get justice.

“I am against the sentencing. I am angry we need to be more victim sensitive, regardless of who the perpetrator is and what money they have,” she said.

ALSO READ: Orlando Pirates star Thembinkosi Lorch hit with R100k fine for assaulting girlfriend

In June, the same court found Lorch guilty of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The case relates to a complaint laid with the Midrand police by his then-girlfriend in September 2020, which resulted in his arrest and release on bail of R2 000.

‘Enough is enough’

Gender-based violence activist Vanessa Nelson said she is infuriated by the sentence. 

“We are saying its fine what he did. He just gets a slap on the wrist and he is free. The message is going out that he did nothing wrong, he must just pay a fine. What does this message send? What hope is there? It tells us don’t even try and eradicate gender-based violence with this sentence. Enough is enough,” she said.

Nelson added that Lorch has blood on his hands because the woman is going to live with that trauma for the rest of her life. 

“The magistrate is saying ‘don’t worry about the victim, don’t worry about when she closes her eyes, don’t worry in years to come that she will maybe not have a normal relationship with a guy because she was strangled’. It takes years to overcome abuse. His life is going to be normal with this suspended sentence. It’s not okay. Magistrates just don’t give a damn, they never get it right. We are saying to victims don’t come forward because there is no justice,” said Nelson.

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Festive season spike in gender-based violence

Nelson said as we get into the festive season we can expect a spike in GBV and abuse against children. She said this is largely because of the effects of alcohol.

“People will get bonuses and help is not readily available to them. The woman and children often get stuck in that abuse because law enforcement can’t immediately react to their case so there is no help and they end up suffering in that environment.”