With more than 21,000 cases of gender-based violence reported over the past four months, South African Police Minister Bheki Cele said Monday that the police should focus on preventing violence against women rather than reacting to it.
He said while the police has made some progress on the issue, it needs to proactively tackle the violence.
“The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit has trained specialist detectives to investigate gender-based violence crimes,” Cele said.
He said he is pleased that some perpetrators were given lengthy sentences.
“The first six months of this year saw 217 life sentences handed down,” Cele said. “From the start of April 2020 to date, 21,203 cases of domestic violence were reported, with 14,799 suspects charged.”
He said specialized units within the police have been provided with resources such as fund and workforce to respond to the issue.
The minister also said it is important that the police respond to reports of gender-based violence with compassion.
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, minister for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, said that economic empowerment for women was also crucial in combating femicide and violence against them.
“We need to ensure women are empowered economically so that they can fend for themselves and that they’re not in relationships which are toxic because they potentially depend on men,” she said. “We then have to have strong support and care systems in place to continue to give support when needed.