Act on rape, Mokonyane tells Gauteng

Monday, February 25, 2013

Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has used her State of the Province Address (SOPA) to call for "unity in action" to end the scourge of rape, which plagues not only the province but the country at large.

In her fourth SOPA as premier, Mokonyane told the Legislature that sexual offences were fundamentally a social problem as it occured in different circumstances, even in conditions of opulence.

Mentioning the horrific rape and killing of Anene Booysens, the recent killing of Reeva Steenkamp and the brutal gang rape of a 17-year old by 15 men in Khutsong on Friday, Mokonyane said these incidents had put South Africa in an unfortunate global spotlight.

"As a society we need to pause and reflect on what has gone wrong in our society. We invite men and women to engage on this matter so that we can find a sustainable societal intervention programme to make Gauteng and our country a safer place for girl children and women," Mokonyane said.

She said the solution to sexual offences did not lie in the successful arrest, prosecution and incarceration of offenders only, but in more comprehensive, socially embedded solutions.

Ahead of the Human Rights Month in March, she called on civil society to join hands with the province in a social dialogue.

"Let us involve young and old, black and white, rich and poor, disabled and abled, in the process of solving this societal evil. Rape is wrong. It can never be justified. We therefore remain determined to further intensify our efforts, through the criminal justice system, to improve detection and conviction rates of perpetrators of sexual offences as a deterrent, leading to incarceration and rehabilitation."

The premier outlined some of the interventions that the province will take to address the scourge. These included the improving of forensic capacity through the training and recruitment of forensic social workers, forensics officers and forensic pathologists and providing support and training to the family violence, child abuse and sexual offences units.

The province will put emphasis on providing family justice support for victims and their families, including in preparing for cases, strengthening the management and use of sexual offences register.

The province is also looking at strengthening  and increasing the victim support centres to about 32 by the end of 2013/14.

Regional Victim Empowerment Centres will be established and strengthened to provide a sanctuary to women and assists them in escaping the cycle of violence through accessing economic opportunities.

Support will also be given to those who seek to change the behaviour of those men who resort to violence against women and children.

Projects such as the Men as Safety Promoters Groups and Men As Safety Partners group will be spread across the province.

"It is our intention that each of these men will in turn reach hundreds of other men across the province and build the movement of men as safety promoters."

The proliferation of drug abuse in the society, the premier said, has reached unacceptable levels and was the major contributor in most crimes committed.

Although the police are making inroads in arresting those involved in drug manufacturing and distribution - Mokonyane acknowledged that it will be through community participation that the fight against drugs will be won. "We call on all Gauteng residents to play their part in assisting the police and ensuring the perpetrators are brought to book."

To ensure people, especially learners, stay clear of drugs - random alcohol and substance abuse searches in schools will be stepped up.

Efforts were also underway with the criminal justice system to classify drugs such as Nyaope as illegal.

Areas which are known for the distribution of drugs will be clamped down on and bylaw enforcement strengthened to prevent the use of abandoned buildings by drug dealers and drug users.

Mokonyane also acknowledge the hard work of the provincial SAPS in tackling crime despite the continued onslaught of organised crime syndicates and the scourge of corruption.

According to statistics, crime in the province has decreased by 8.1%, murder decreased by 11% and attempted murder which decreased by 16.3%.  Trio crimes saw an overall decrease of 12.9% in the province.

To make sure the bar is raised - the premier said they will re-launch the Take Charge Campaign combining community activism in anti-crime initiatives and strengthening the Know Your Neighbourhood initiative and sector policing. -