Article by: Thembela Ntongana – First published on groundup.org.za
About 100 people marched through Khayelitsha to the Site B Police station on Women’s Day, against gender-based violence in the community. The protest was organised by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), South African National Civic organisation (SANCO) and the African Ministers Forum
The residents proceeded from Enkanini to SST and BM section which are informal settlements where recent incidents of rape and murder of women have occurred, GroundUp reports.
In SST Sinoxolo Mafevuka was raped and murdered and left in a communal toilet. In Enkanini a 14-year-old girl was raped and impregnated by the perpetrator who is out on bail. In BM a woman and her two-year-old baby were attacked.
The mother was raped and her baby killed.
“I am here for those people who like me have been raped and are scared to speak out,” said a 21-year-old Enkanini resident. She was raped on her way home earlier this year.
“We want the police to start taking these cases seriously. It is not nice for a victim to keep running into the same person who violated them because they are out on bail.“
SJC member Nontando Mhlabeni said the march was organised to tell the police to implement recommendations that were made in the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.
“It’s been four years since the report of the commission was released but we are still not seeing any changes, especially when it comes to gender-based violence,” said Mhlabeni.
She said one of the recommendations in the commission focused solely on gender-based violence. “We thought we would see change but instead we see that gender-based violence has increased,” said Mhlabeni.
Lonwabo Mqina said gender-based violence had become a norm in Khayelitsha.
“On a daily basis we see women being beaten by their partners and that is not taken seriously. When we go to the police station the police tell people to sort out the matter without opening a case. This is wrong because the perpetrator sees he can get away with it,” said Mqina.
“We want the police to investigate cases thoroughly because we have cases that have been dismissed in court due to poor investigations,” said Mqina.
In the memorandum handed to the police, the organisations asked for the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit to operate in all three police stations in Khayelitsha, which was a recommendation of the Commission.
Currently, it only operates in the Site B station. The protesters also asked for gender-based violence cases to be properly investigated, a strategic plan to defeat gender-based violence in the area, and visible policing in informal settlements.
The organisations gave the police 21 days to respond to the memorandum.
Khayelitsha cluster Commander, Major General Johan Brand accepted the memorandum. Brand committed to working with the community and asked for details of the gender-based violence cases in the township that need to be investigated.
He called for community support in the prosecution of ongoing rape court cases, like that of a four-year-old whose case is currently in the High Court. Brand said he wanted a life sentence for the men who raped the girl. “We want to get these kind of men out of Khayelitsha.”