Parliament wants decisive action to deal with sexual assault

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Parliament has called on government and stakeholders to improve their coordination in dealing with the incidence of sexual assault.

“The scourge of sexual assault on children was also before the committee at today’s meeting. Some of the Chapter 9 institutions attending the meeting suggested that poor coordination is failing these vulnerable groups,” said the Parliamentary Committee on Social Development in a statement on Wednesday.

The committee was briefed by the Department of Social Development, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality on the interventions taken to deal with the escalating statistics of rape and kidnapping of children.

“The committee resolved to ask the Minister of Social Development to take up the matter with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Leader of Government Business. This serious social challenge requires a response from government, particularly from within the Department of Social Development, which should champion this response,” said the committee.

Parliament’s call comes as government gears up to hold the #100MenMarch in response to the rise of violence against women and children on Tuesday, 10 July.

The march comes in the wake of the rise of femicide in South Africa, with Statistics South Africa reporting that the murder rate for women increased drastically by 117% between 2015 and 2016/17.

It calls upon all men to join the #100MenMarch and boldly declare that violence against women and children will not be tolerated in their respective environment or communities.

“The committee also sent sincere condolences to all families whose loved ones passed away as a result of a sexual assault. The committee appealed to government, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders and community organisations to join hands against this scourge that is plaguing our society,” said the committee.

Improving payment system for beneficiaries 

In addition to reports on sexual assault, the committee also received reports on challenges experienced during the payment and collection of social grants during the current payment cycle.

The challenges reported include long queues, stampedes in post offices, the inability of staff to cope with large numbers of people and the unavailability of enough cash in most areas.

“The committee was made aware of the weaknesses and strengths within the South African Post Office (SAPO) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) before this process was implemented.

“Because weaknesses in the implementation of the payment process are now manifesting, the committee wants to revisit the roadmap that SAPO presented to the committee and to hear about the progress SAPO has made in its checklist for disbursements,” said the committee.

The committee urged SASSA to improve the way it communicates with beneficiaries and to do so timeously, particularly when challenges are anticipated.

“The committee urges SASSA to ensure that frontline staff dealing directly with the public are kind and courteous.

“The committee also believes that SASSA should consider alternative ways of using a PIN to access the social grants. It has transpired through provincial reports that a lot of grant beneficiaries, particularly the elderly, easily forget their PINs and there is no support system, as had been promised before implementation,” said the committee. –