Minister calls for stiff sentences for women, child abusers

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Johannesburg - Minister of Women, Children and People living with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, has called for perpetrators of abuse towards women and children to be given stiff sentences.

"The criminal justice system need to reconsider the sentences imposed to perpetrators and give stiff sentences so that our society will feel the impact of this campaign as well as 365 Days of Activism," she said.

She said bail should not be granted to those who victimise the vulnerable social groups, women and children.

The minister was speaking at the 16 Days Campaign Stakeholder Summit on Wednesday, which forms part of the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign.

Mayende-Sibiya maintained that the criminal justice system has to take crime against women and children serious, adding that there must be no space for abusers.

"The department will ensure that these cases are treated as such and we will work closely with the Ministry of Police to form a strong partnership in addressing these forms of crimes.

"We will further work with this ministry to ensure that the specialised units have skilled experts who will effectively address these cases and ensure that more perpetrators are prosecuted and convicted," the minister said.

Mayende-Sibiya explained that while the campaign runs from 25 November to 10 December every year, its objectives are reinforced by the year-long 365 Days Programme and a National Plan.

The campaign highlights government's commitment in a building caring and peaceful society, which protects women and children from all forms of violence.

Meanwhile, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa said government intends to revamp the criminal justice system to ensure that such crimes are addressed and dealt with accordingly.

Mthethwa labeled men who abuse women and children as "cowards" because they are unable to face other men but in instead use women and children as "stress releasers".

The minister further called on victims to take a stand by reporting the perpetrators and not withdraw these cases because that hinders the national effort to eliminate the "monsters".

"Every Friday police receive at least 10 complaints of these cases but by Sunday seven of these cases are withdrawn. This is a serious challenge and makes the work of police difficult," he said.

The summit, which was attended by gender rights activists, Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials, will further advocate active participation by all stakeholders and also strengthening partnerships for an effective national effort.