It has been just over five months since the Sexual Offences Court was opened by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March at the Booysens Magistrates’ Court, and already 26 sexual offences cases have been brought before it. Nineteen of these involve children under the age of 18.
And this is just one court.
During his address to the nation on Thursday night about plans to address gender-based violence, Ramaphosa said the government had established 92 dedicated sexual offences courts since 2013, and that a further 11 would be opened this financial year “to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offences are not subjected to further trauma”.
Chrispin Phiri, spokesperson for the ministry of justice and correctional services, told City Press last week: “A total of 555 cases have been opened for domestic violence, but 111 orders have been made so far.”
At the Sexual Offences Court in Booysens, 126 cases of gender-based violence have been opened. Of these, 25 were opened by men.
At a national level, Phiri said that a total of 7 615 sexual offences cases were opened across the country’s provinces.
But, he added, 10 981 cases were outstanding (not allocated).
Ramaphosa charged that all gender-based violence cases that had been closed or were not properly investigated “must be reviewed”.
He outlined additional measures that government would be taking to address the scourge of gender-based violence, saying: “We are going to overhaul and modernise the national register of gender-based violence offenders provided for in the Sexual Offences Act to ensure it is effective in combating gender-based violence.
“This national register of offenders will list all the men convicted of acts of violence against women and children.
“I will ask Parliament to consider amending the legislation to make the register public. I will propose to Cabinet that all crimes against women and children should attract harsher minimum sentences.
“We agree with the women of our country that the state should oppose bail and parole for perpetrators of rape and murder against women and children.”