Revisit law on rape: Deputy Minister Kekana

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana says there is a need to revisit the law with an aim of reversing the burden of proof in rape cases to make defendants to be the ones who have to prove their innocence.

This move, she said, would ease the trauma that victims have to endure in having to report and eventually prove their case in a court of law.

Kekana said this during a dialogue on gender at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the Western Cape on Wednesday night ahead of the official Women’s Day commemorations event in Mbekweni in Paarl on Thursday.

The panel discussion, which was hosted by the Department of Arts and Culture and broadcast live on SAFM, was held in tribute to struggle icon Mama Albertina Sisulu in reflection of her life, her contribution to the struggle and to gender equality.

Kekana said the dialogue sessions on gender issues were very important and that if the conversation is not sustained, the country “will mourn the death of women in the country”.

“It is high time we as women, take a radical stance on this matter and I am of the opinion that we need to legislate the reverse owners principle…

“If we concede that our society is inherently patriarchal, then we will understand that even the judicial system, in its current form, does not defend or protect the vulnerable. So it means we have to go back to legislation to say it is women who always get tried after they have been raped, instead of men, who should explain themselves on why they did this,” she said.

Kekana said this as the country mourns Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko, who took her own life last week after reporting to the institution’s authorities that she was raped by a fellow student in May.

Maseko is expected to be buried today.

Kekana said young boys and men needed to understand that they are not entitled to women’s bodies and that it is time that a radical stance was taken to protect women.

In most judicial systems around the world, the prosecution is required to prove the defendant’s guilt in a rape case and those accused of the heinous crime evade jail time if the state is unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.

“So the reverse owners approach says ‘let the perpetrator explain himself … on what actually happened’ because it is women who get harassed [on the dock] and get asked, ‘why did you wear that mini skirt and why did you pass at that time’, And that is what we must now look at,” she said.

Programme to entrench principle of equality between boys and girls

With panellists expressing their views on the fact that there is an urgent need to act against patriarchy, members of the audience, who were dominantly students, took turns to ask what can be done to ensure that patriarchal behaviour, which they identified as one of the root causes of gender-based violence, can be kicked out of society.

Nomasonto Mazibuko, a commissioner at the Commission for Gender Equality, said a lot of effort was being channelled towards a programme that would ensure that patriarchy is tackled at societal level.

“The Department of Women, working together with the Commission for Gender Quality, are working together with the boy child and the girl child. When they are given chores in the house, it is when the father says to the boy ‘go and do gardening while the girl cooks’. And the children are then coerced to wear [the colour] pink as girls and blue as boys.

“Now we are saying as society, let us [build] a safe society where we are saying to children … as you enter this world, you are equal and you will be treated the same and given the same orders in the classroom,” she said.

The University’s Vice Chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo said in order to empower women, the university was stepping up its efforts to achieve gender parity through mainstreaming a gender transformation programme.

He said the institution was stepping up efforts to ensure that there were more academia that were being offered opportunities to enrol for PhDs and to also increase the number of  associate professors from the women fold.

“On the 16th of this month, we will be launching this bold statement for the institution. I am doing some research to check how many universities have a gender-based policy. And I must actually say I can count up to six, so that means that we are trailblazers as an institution and of course, I also have a think tank and this think tank is made of really strong women who are always calling me to order,” he said.

He said the university was also putting measures in place to deal with the scourge of rape on campuses.

“We are also looking at the issues of rape. If it is actually happening in this institution, we have to ensure that we don’t have any under reporting and we have to ensure that we actually put measures in place and we discipline people who are not towing the line when it comes to those issues.” –