Pretoria – Uyinene Mrwetyana is not the only victim, but this week the young woman became a symbol for South Africa’s women of their anger and their pain.
Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old first year University of Cape Town student who was raped and murdered allegedly by a post office worker, will be laid to rest in East London today.
Among those attending her funeral will be President Cyril Ramaphosa, Police Minister Bheki Cele, his deputy Bhuti Manamela, and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane. It has been a week of protests against gender based violence on a scale not seen before.
On Thursday after thousands moved through the streets of Cape Town the president, in an address to the nation, reiterated their cry that “enough is enough”.
“We have heard the calls of the women of our country for action and justice,” he said, promising among other measures to make public the register of sex offenders, to oppose bail and parole for perpetrators of crimes such as rape and murder, to review laws on domestic violence, have harsher maximum sentences and review unresolved cases.
On Friday Ramaphosa visited families of three women who have fallen victim to gender-based violence in recently days. After paying his respects to the Mrwetyana family, he proceeded to a local hospital to see the mother of late boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels who was killed, allegedly by her former ex-boyfriend. His final visit was to the family of Angelique Clark-Abrahams who was raped and assaulted at her home and later died.
He told the families in the presence of media that the time had come to deal with gender-based violence in a more focused manner and promised he would meet with premiers and vice-chancellors of universities as a starting point.
Universities, schools and organisations across the country held vigils, while radio presenters at a number of stations stayed off air in solidarity with women victims of gender-based violence. A number of media campaigns have also been started including in the Independent Media/Pretoria News #MyPromise campaign in which we call on men to promise to help make our country a better place for every woman.
The protests on Wednesday against gender-based violence outside Parliament and the Cape Town International Convention Centre were unprecedented in recent times as many victims were remembered and protesters held plackards asking #AmINext.
Head of Africa at WEF, Elsie Kanza, said the call to end gender based violence was an honourable starting point for an international summit concerned with building a better future for the region.
“This week’s World Economic Forum on Africa was built around two ideas, Inclusion and Growth. It is also fundamental to the mission of my organisation. But i“It will be impossible to achieve inclusion and growth – the aims of the forum – for as long as we live in a society where half of the population are treated as a lesser form of humanity to the other half,” said Kanza.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said the greatest deterrent to crime was the likelihood that offenders would be apprehended, convicted and punished.
“The reinstatement of the death penalty will not deal with femicide and other forms of violence against women,” he said in response to calls from sectors of society for this. | Additional reporting Africa News Agency (ANA)