Everyone needs to row in order to turn the tide

This column first appeared in today’s (Tuesday, 19 February 2013) Pretoria News Newspaper.
This column first appeared in today’s (Tuesday, 19 February 2013) Pretoria News Newspaper.

“GRANNY, 100, raped; 16-year-old gangraped; Nine arrested in North West for gang rape; 3-year-old raped in Cosmo City; Soweto pastor arrested for rape…”

And so the headlines continue. The rape scourge has finally outraged the nation.

I wrote in this column last week that it is critical for us to take this collective rage and turn it into concrete outcomes that will make a tangible difference in the fight against violent crime.

I am happy to report back on some of the issues I raised.

I appealed to President Jacob Zuma to publically declare that he was turning 16 days of activism against women and children into 365 days of activism.

It was good to hear Zuma in his State of the Nation address saying we should “make the campaign of fighting violence an every day campaign”.

My call to the police to bring back the specialised police units to deal with violent and sexual crimes, among other issues, received an instant response from them.

In an e-mail, the police ministry pointed out that the reintroduction of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS unit) had been announced four years ago.

“In 2011 the reintroduction process commenced and was completed by June 30, 2012. As we speak these units are being capacitated.”

They also gave details of training programmes and the amounts spent.

Given the current situation, the police urgently need to plough further resources into the FCS units to make them more effective.

The Justice Ministry says plans are under way to introduce special courts to deal with rape cases. This is welcomed.

Minister Angie Motshekga and I have spoken about raising awareness in schools and an announcement is expected about a national campaign in partnership with LeadSA soon.

The departments of Social Development and Women, Children and People with Disabilities still need to take up the challenge about putting money into counselling services and other essential needs of victims.

They had, however, spoken out against violent and sexual crimes over the past week.

I believe the health ministry is looking at ways of getting rid of queues at hospitals, clinics and district surgeon offices for rape victims.

I have since discussed the matter with Deputy Health Minister Gwen Ramokgopa and I hope that the call for specialised facilities is heeded.

Thank you to civil society bodies and the private sector for raising rape awareness. The many demonstrations across the country and the “V-day” campaign have certainly assisted.

Rape survivors continue to break their silence. Thank you for your courage.

Fellow South Africans, please continue to assist NGOs and Rape Crisis centres who are in dire need of financial assistance and volunteers. Awareness campaigns are crucial but we need tangible results.


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