IMC set up to ensure justice system is victim-centric

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) has been set up to look at how the criminal justice system can be more "victim-centric".

The Minister said this when she, along with Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola, briefed the media on recent events of gender-based violence and femicide at the Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town, on Tuesday.

The briefing follows the horrific rape and murder of 19-year-old University of Cape Town (UCT) film and media student, Uyinene Mrwetyana.

“The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, has directed the Director General of Justice and Constitutional Development to immediately convene the inter-sectoral committee in terms section 63 of the Sexual Offences [Act].

“The committee is chaired by the National Commissioner of Police Services, National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Director General of Social Development, Director General of Health and the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

“In terms of the Section 63 of the Sexual Offences Act this committee is responsible for ensuring that the Criminal Justice System takes a victim-centric approach to sexual offences,” she said.

Following the news of Mrwetyana’s death, South Africans have expressed their hurt and outrage at the manner in which she lost her life. Her alleged attacker has been identified as a 42-year-old man who worked at the South African Post Office.

Briefing the media on Tuesday, Nkoana-Mashabane said the high rate of crime against women and children remains a grave concern for government at large.

She said that at its core, violence against women and children is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognise the inherent equality and dignity of women and an issue of fundamental human rights.

In the month of August alone, more than 30 women were killed in the hands of their partners.

The Minister said the IMC would, as part of their review of the Sexual Offences Act, look at increasing the foot print of sexual offences courts across the country, as well as amending the Criminal Procedure Act to ensure that persons who allege that they are sexually violated are not re-violated.

“This committee will provide a briefing on what is being done to ensure that an efficient victim centred response is implemented. 

“We collectively are calling for all service delivery points within the value chain of the criminal justice system to exhibit speed, sensitivity and responsive attitudes to reduce, and ultimately eradicate secondary victimisation.”

Nkoana-Mashabane called on all officials in the employ of the criminal justice system to ensure they treat victims with respect and dignity and refrain from any form of victim blaming.

“This scourge calls for the collective participation of all the government agencies and the community organisations to enhance our interventions in so far as gender-based violence is concerned,” she said.

SA boxing champion Leighandre Jegels was killed by a man who was reportedly her boyfriend.

On Monday, the body of a 14-year-old girl was found in a backyard in Cape Town, “adding to a grim body count of murdered women and girls across the country”.

“As government we are aware that there are many unreported cases of GBV and femicide that are not reported in the media and therefore do not receive prominence in the public domain and this does not make them less important or not a priority for us. We believe that every perpetrator should be brought to book and every victim should have access to justice and their story has to be told.

“The South African Police Service is ‘an arm’ of government that does not rest when it comes to investigating the abuse women and children suffer at the hands of criminals. Sometimes these perpetrators being their husbands, fathers, boyfriends, family members and family friends.

“In its commitment to serve and protect the vulnerable, the SAPS has prioritised crime perpetrated against women and children,” said the Minister.

In mourning for all women killed, the department has called for a national moment of silence and prayer on Sunday, 8 September 2019. –