As part of his Heritage Day address, President Cyril Ramaphosa bemoaned the scourge of gender-based violence and said that such crimes are not part of the country’s heritage

The country celebrated Heritage Day on Thursday and social media was flooded with images of citizens looking vibrant in colourful traditional outfits.

People also posted videos of themselves taking up the #JerusalemaChallenge, as requested by the country’s number one during his earlier announcement on the move lockdown level 1.

But it was serious business when the president addressed the country on Heritage Day and gender-based violence was at the top of his agenda.

Ramaphosa said: “So long as this country’s women and children live in fear from violence, we cannot regard ourselves as totally free.

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“So long as women are being harassed, abused, beaten, raped and murdered, we cannot say we are a civilised society.”

The president hailed the contributions of women to building and shaping societies.

“They have ruled kingdoms. They have been highly respected and valued. We must put an end to this terrible shame that is tainting the image of our country,” he said.

He went on to say: “When you oppress a woman, you oppress a nation. When you beat a woman, you beat a nation.”

Ramaphosa also made reference to the recent Clicks saga, at the centre of which was a hair product advert deemed to be racist and offensive by many who saw it.

He said: “We must stand firm against attempts to disrespect our country’s women through crude forms of representation in the media, in advertising and in popular culture.

“The social cohesion we seek in this country means we must be mindful of the legacy of our past, whether we are businesses selling products, whether we are producers of content for television, or otherwise.”

Earlier this month, Ramaphosa announced that three key pieces of legislation had been introduced in parliament to further aid in the fight against GBV.

“The three amendment Bills are designed to fill the gaps that allow some perpetrators of these crimes to evade justice and to give full effect to the rights of our country’s women and children.”

He acknowledged that “many survivors of gender-based violence have lost faith in the criminal justice system.”

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SAPS Emergency Services 10111
Toll-free Crime Stop number 086 00 10111
GBV Command Centre Contact the 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre toll-free number 0800 428 428 to report abuse
STOP Gender Violence Helpline Tel: 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#
South African Police Service Report all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form of violence to a local police station or call the toll-free Crime Stop number: 086 00 10111
Legal Aid South Africa Call the toll-free Legal Aid Advice Line 0800110 110 for free legal aid if you cannot afford one
Commission for Gender Equality Report Gender Discrimination and Abuse: 0800 007 709
South African Human Rights Commission Call 011 877 3600 to lodge a complaint about human rights violations.
Domestic violence Helpline Stop Women Abuse: 0800 150 150
AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
The Warrior Project FREE legal helpline for victims of domestic abuse: 0860 333 353
People Opposed to Woman Abuse(Powa), Tel: 011 642 4345
Child Welfare South Africa, Tel: 074 080 8315
Childline South Africa, Tel: 0800 055 555
Families South Africa (Famsa), Tel: 011 975 7106/7
Tears Foundation, Free SMS helpline: *134*7355#, Tel: 010 590 5920
The Trauma Centre, Tel: 021 465 7373
Thuthuzela Care Centres