Thousands protest against gender violence, outside parliament in Cape Town, September 5 2019. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Thousands protest against gender violence, outside parliament in Cape Town, September 5 2019. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The ANC says it will work with other political parties in parliament to expedite laws that impose harsher sentences for all violent  crimes against women and children.

The increasing rate of rape and femicide in SA has come under sharp scrutiny in recent weeks following the murder and rape of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town student, and the murder of a young female boxing champion, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he will propose to the cabinet that all laws punishing crimes against women and children should carry harsher minimum sentences.  He also said government agrees with calls for the state to oppose bail for suspects and parole for perpetrators of rape and murder of women and children.

The president said the government would overhaul and modernise the national sex offenders register and he would ask parliament to consider amending the legislation to make the register public.

Briefing the media on Monday after the ANC parliamentary caucus lekgotla, party chief whip Pemmy Majodina said additional measures should be implemented immediately. These should include declaring gender-based violence a national emergency and dedicating time and resources to eradicate it.

The ANC also supports the tagging of those convicted of sexual offenders, as well as life sentences with no possibility of parole for perpetrators and no bail for those facing sexual offences charges. Majodina added that the South African Police Service needed a changed mind-set in dealing with victims, and rape and paediatric trauma kits should be made available at all police stations.

Meanwhile, the ANC in parliament resolved to strengthen oversight over the government, and for the restructuring of some state-owned enterprises  “to ensure good returns on public funds invested into SOEs (state-owned enterprises)”.

Majodina said the lekgotla welcomed the initiative by the government to start a national conversation on how to boost the economy in the short term.

“The lekgotla welcomed the policy certainty by government; in particular, the release of the policy direction for the licensing of the high-demand spectrum, which was approved by the cabinet. The Lekgotla noted concerns about the implementation of reforms in visa regulations, which are crucial for boosting the tourism sector in our country.

“The lekgotla resolved that the ANC in parliament will move with greater vigour to ensure that the government implements decisive policy measures, to reignite inclusive growth and create jobs,” said Majodina.