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Deputy minister calls on South African men to protect women

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Number of calls to the gender-based violence national command centre had increased since the lockdown and police have arrested 148 suspects

IN LIGHT of several reported cases of gender-based violence and femicide as South Africa endures a month-long lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women Hlengiwe Mkhize on Monday called on South African men to take a stand and protect women.

While commending the SAPS’s “swift response” and arrests in these cases, Mkhize said the incidents were distressing.

She said it was disturbing that some of the reported incidents were allegedly perpetrated by police officers.

“We call upon men in our society to stand up against gender-based violence. Violence against women and children is unacceptable and we should not allow vile tendencies to spark at such a time in our country, during the nationwide lockdown,” she said.

Last week, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) arrested a police officer who allegedly shot his girlfriend to death at the police barracks.

The 41-year-old sergeant, based at the flying squad in Midrand, reportedly accused his girlfriend of having an affair with his colleague before shooting her several times.

Mkhize welcomed the suspect’s arrest and his subsequent appearance in the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court, and she called on law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that justice is served in the matter.

She expressed “shock” over the incident and added that “even more sickening about the crime is that the officer allegedly shot the woman at the police barracks”.

The deputy minister said under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa the message is clear that gender-based violence and femicide will not be tolerated in South Africa.

“It is barbaric to even lay a hand on someone, and killing them is beyond comprehension,” said Mkhize.

She encouraged women who feel threatened to call 0800-150-150 or 0800-428-428 to report incidents of gender-based violence.

Since the inception of the lockdown, Ipid has received three complaints of gender-based-violence allegedly perpetrated by members of the SAPS.

On Monday, Ramaphosa deplored the rise in violence against women and the vandalism of state property as South Africa enters its third week under lockdown.

“It is disturbing that during a time of such immense difficulty for our country, women and girls are being terrorised inside their own homes, forcing them to make desperate calls for help,” Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly newsletter, four days after he extended the lockdown until the end of April.

He said the number of calls to the gender-based violence national command centre had increased since the lockdown began on March 27 and police had arrested 148 suspects for gender-based violence.

South Africa is going through a stringent national lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. The country had at least 1 749 confirmed infections and total deaths are now at 13.

– African News Agency (ANA)