Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has labelled the justice system and police as being “toothless and lukewarm” when dealing with victims of gender-based violence. He also blamed the police for not taking reports of sexual assault seriously.
“Victims are not taken seriously when they report abuse and rape perpetrated by relatives or people they know. They are taken more seriously when it’s committed by strangers,” said Malema.
Speaking at an EFF media briefing on Thursday, Malema said that women should be provided with experts who understand the issues related to sexual assault.
His comments followed the brutal murders of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana and female SA boxing champion Leighandre Jegels. The murder and other incidents of attacks against women led to widespread outrage and protests against the government’s handling of these issues. The man arrested in connection with the disappearance of Mrwetyana was charged with murder, rape and defeating the ends of justice. Although still unnamed, he was a Post Office employee.
Malema mentioned a woman, Alice Cropper, who posted her experience at the same post office where Mrwetyana was attacked. Cropper detailed on Twitter how she faced apathy from police when she went to report that the man who was alleged to have attacked Mrwetyana also allegedly tried to get her to come to the post office after hours.
“Even when people volunteer [information and evidence] they still reject it. Our police must take full responsibility for this mess. And there should be consequences for all those police who she mentioned in her Facebook status who were reluctant to help her. Action must be taken against them,” said Malema.
“Why has this act [women abuse] become part of our daily lives?” asked Malema
Malema said the Post Office, as a “responsible employer”, should’ve known about Mrwetyana’s alleged killer’s past. The man reportedly has a previous criminal conviction and once faced a rape charge, which was later withdrawn.
He said that the government had been reluctant to dealing with the issue of gender-based violence because it had not introduced radical changes when it came to dealing with matters of gender-based violence,
Malema added that from the beginning of the cycle – reporting – to investigation, prosecution and, ultimately, the matters being heard by the judiciary and judges, there was a lack of urgency in attending to violence against women.
He urged the courts to make the granting of bail more difficult.
“We want bail applications to be tightened, if it’s granted it must be under strict conditions and should not make a mockery of the entire system,” Malema said.
He vowed to act swiftly against sexual perpetrators in the party.
“Members of the EFF who are perpetrators of gender based violence, should be brought to us. We act swiftly,” he said.
Malema said that the party would take action against the Post Office, using its legal team led by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, for the murder of Mrwetyana.