President Cyril Ramaphosa faced boos and jeers when he cut short his time at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa to tell protesters outside parliament that he wanted men to take responsibility for the rape and deaths of women in SA. 

Ramaphosa told several thousand protesters he would announce measures to protect SA women, including harsher punishment for men who rape and kill them, later in the day.

The protests follow the murders and rape of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town student, and the murder of a young female boxing champion, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels.

Wednesday’s protest descended into chaos when police used water cannons and stun grenades to disperse the crowds gathered outside the WEF event in Cape Town. Ramaphosa, who is leading a delegation at the WEF, did not appear on a panel on Thursday so that he could  accept a memorandum from protesters.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declares a state of emergency amid gender-based violence that saw hundreds of protesters gather outside Parliament on September 5 2019. Ramaphosa addresses the crowd in Cape Town after rising concerns over a wave of gender-based crime that saw protesters converge on the World Economic Forum on Africa.

“You have given me your memorandum and I can see all the messages that are emboldened on the placards you are holding and I am internalising all of them. I know that you are saying ‘enough is enough’. I agree with you that indeed ‘enough is enough’,” he said.

Met with booing from the crowd and screams for him to take responsibility, Ramaphosa said he would make an announcement on the measures the government is going to embark on that were set out in the memorandum, as well as resolutions taken at the gender-based summit last year.

“Last year, arising from a number of calls that the women of our country made, we held a gender-based summit and the outcomes of that summit are currently in the process of being implemented,” he said.

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“You have made calls that we should declare a state of emergency. The killing of women must be brought to an end here in SA and we want the men of our country to take responsibility for the slaughtering of the women of our nation. We want the men of our country to stop raping our women and killing them.”

Shortly after Ramaphosa’s brief statement, protesters made their way to the Cape Town International Convention Centre where more than a thousand regional and global leaders, business representatives, academics and civil society representatives are attending WEF. ​


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