President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

President Cyril Ramaphosa has summoned the two houses of parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, to an emergency sitting on Wednesday to tackle gender-based violence.

In letter sent to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and NCOP chairperson Amos Masondo on Thursday, seen by TimesLIVE, Ramaphosa said the urgent sitting of parliament has been convened in terms of section 84 of the constitution.

Ramaphosa told parliament's two presiding officers that the manner in which the country dealt with violence against women had “changed fundamentally” in the past fortnight.

He said the events of the past two weeks, in which scores of women died at the hands of men purporting to love them, while others were killed and raped at government service points, should be treated as “a turning point” in the battle against violence against women.

The letter also comes as national crime stats released by the SA Police Service on Thursday showed that sexual offences increased by 4.6% in the 2018/2019 financial year.

This, in part, also explains why Ramaphosa withdrew from travelling to New York for the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, saying he was staying behind to “concentrate on critical issues in the country”.

“In the last two weeks, SA's approach to violence perpetrated against women has changed fundamentally.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure that these events become the turning point in our fight to end gender-based violence.

“Therefore, in terms of section 84 (2) (d) of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, read with rule 7 (1) (b) of the joint rules of parliament, I hereby call for a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday September 18 2019,” the letter read.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Sandton, Johannesburg, on September 13 2019 to protest against gender-based violence. They congregated outside the JSE, where they handed over a memorandum to its CEO Nicky Newton-King.