Gender-Based Violence in South Africa a Visible Epidemic, Writes Vincent Cruywagen


Gender-based violence (GBV) is a clear and visible epidemic in the midst of Covid-19.

In September 2019 President Cyril Ramaphosa declared femicide a national crisis, but South African women and children are still being killed each day. Many are calling out the government for their lack of action. The Daily Maverick’s Vincent Cruywagen spoke to various leaders in the fight against GBV.

Miranda Jordan from Woman and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA), said she mourns for the recent resurgence of violence in South Africa and has condemned the brutal murder of several women.

“As an organisation, we but offer lip-service about GBV (gender-based violence) which results in orphaned children who are traumatised for the rest of their lives and that is not okay. We know that abuse, especially murder, is largely perpetrated by people known to the victims.”

Jordan says underlying societal and relational issues that led to GBV had to be explored if we, as South Africans, hoped to find a solution for the rights, safety and abuse of women in communities. 

“Femicide is a rampant disease that is festering in our society,” she says.

The Daily Maverick summarised some of the latest gruesome GBV cases:

  • The decomposed body of Sibongiseni Gabada who was missing for two weeks, was found in Khayelitsha in a bag on 29 May. The case against the man charged with her murder was provisionally withdrawn, meaning he is not completely off the hook. However, regional National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said on Saturday, 13 June: “Following the provisional withdrawal, the NPA has decided to review the decision. We have also requested an urgent further investigation to be done on the case.”
  • 25-year-old Naledi Phangindawo of Mossel Bay who was hacked to death with an axe and knife on 8 June 2020. The accused, 34-year-old, Mlondi Ntlangule, is set to appear in the Mossel Bay Magistrate’s court this week on a charge of murder.
  • The murder of 16-year-old Liyabona Mabishia a lesbian, who was killed on 21 March, Human Rights Day, where police have made a breakthrough in the case. Mashibi was stabbed 13 times in a hate crime. Five suspects have been arrested and are due back in court on 6 July for a bail application.
  • 12 June in Belhar, police discovered the bodies of Altecia Kortjie and her seven-year-old daughter Raynecia. The mother sustained multiple stab wounds while the child was found on the bathroom floor. The pair had been missing since Monday, 8 June. A 28-year-old man, known to the victims, was arrested and will appear in court on Monday, 15 June.
  • Also on 12 June, a young woman has been found murdered in Johannesburg. Protesters in Dobsonville found her body under a tree on Friday. The discovery came after Pule’s funeral. 
  • The last reported case for a bloody week was that of Cape Town dancer and LBGTQI activist, 28-year-old Kirvan Fortuin, who was stabbed to death in Macassar on 13 June. Police said a 14-year-old girl has been arrested in connection with the murder.

Megan Lessing, of the Sex Work Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), said in the same article that the Covid-19 pandemic left women in a position which forced them to be at home with their abusers, as is evidenced by the increased incidents of GBV.

Lessing has called for the implementation of the National Strategic Plan, with its recommendations. “We need the Hate Crimes Bill and we need laws and strategies that [place] women, trans women and GNC (gender non-conforming) persons first,” Lessing said.

Siyabulela Monakali of the NGO Ilitha Labantu reiterated that not enough was being done to radically alter the situation on violence perpetrated against women and children.

She emphasised that in South Africa there were laws and policies in place which sought to protect the rights and dignity of women, children and the most vulnerable. However, these laws were not and are not adequately enforced.

“Violence perpetrated on women and children signifies that there is a problem with men in our society. We need to play a greater role in helping to challenge patriarchy and toxic masculinity.”

The men who abused, violated, discriminated against and murdered women “are our brothers, cousins, uncles, fathers and friends and we appeal to men to take rightful action. The silence of men in light of injustices speaks volumes,” she said.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz says, “Gender-based violence and homophobia have no place in our society. I condemn these acts in the strongest terms. Each of us has the right to equality, dignity and a duty to stand up and report such transgressions.”

Fritz lauded the arrest of five suspects by the SAPS in connection with the murder of 16-year-old Liyabona Mabishi.