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President welcomes three life sentences

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Ramaphosa welcomed the sentence handed down to the killer of Uyinene Mrwetyana.

President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday welcomed the three life sentences handed down to the killer of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana and said progress had been made in implementing the government’s emergency plan on violence against women announced in the wake of her murder.

“The life sentences serve the cause of justice and must act as a deterrent to men who rape and kill the women of our country,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.

“The violence perpetrated by men against women remains a scourge and national crisis that we must act urgently to end.”

Ramaphosa said he was receiving weekly briefings on the implementation of the emergency action plan he announced in October, shortly after Mrwetyana was raped and bludgeoned to death by a post office worker as she tried to collect a parcel.

Government departments tasked with its implementation had reprioritised R1.6 billion for its implementation, he added.

Ramaphosa said the government was “on track” to establish 11 new sexual offences courts by the end of the current financial year. One has already been opened in Sibasa in Limpopo province.

“Clearing case backlogs is a priority. The National Prosecuting Authority is implementing a 100-day rapid results approach to speed up case turnaround times. Courts with significant backlogs in the North West, Eastern Cape and Limpopo have been identified for roll-out,” he said.

The government has set up national and provincial 24-hour call centres to deal with complaints against police officials, prosecutors and magistrates on gender-based violence and femicide cases, and these are now in operation.

Ramaphosa said plans were underway to clear up the backlog at forensic laboratories processing evidence in cases of violence against women, and a tracking system would be rolled out in January.

Furthermore, a project has been launched in the Eastern Cape to revisit unsolved murder and sexual offences cases and will be implemented nationally.

“Legislative reform is underway to tighten conditions around bail and sentencing for perpetrators of gender-based violence, as well as provisions that extend the protection afforded to women and children,” the president said, adding that he was taking personal responsibility to insure the emergency plan was implemented.

The plan has been widely criticised as inadequate to deal with rampant gender-based violence.

Luyanda Botha was sentenced in the Western Cape High Court on Friday after entering into a plea and sentencing agreement.

This came just under three months since Mrwetyana was found buried in a shallow grave in Khayelitsha.