A woman holds placards as she demonstrates against gender based violence outside parliament in Cape Town. Picture: MARCO LONGARI / AFP
A woman holds placards as she demonstrates against gender based violence outside parliament in Cape Town. Picture: MARCO LONGARI / AFP

On Friday, the body of an unidentified woman was found under a tree in Soweto. She’d been stabbed to death.

This, after the murders of Tshegofatso Pule and Naledi Phangindawo. News24 reports that two women were shot in KwaZulu-Natal last week. Last month Sibongiseni Gabada’s body was found in a black bag near her boyfriend’s shack in Khayelitsha.

This is the tip of the iceberg. But the killings – initially at least – elicited the usual impotence from the government. In yet another “notes from another country” address on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa referred to the surge in gender-based violence since the move to level 3 of lockdown. “We need to understand what factors are fuelling this terrible trend and, as a society as a whole, address them urgently,” he said.

You’d swear we hadn’t been here before. In August last year, for example, when Uyinene Mrwetyana was murdered. Or Karabo Mokoena in 2018. Or Anene Booysen in 2013.

So it felt like a bit of a step forward when Ramaphosa placed the issue at the centre of his address to the nation on Wednesday night.

Only, the problem isn’t alcohol; it’s not the relaxation of the lockdown. These are just enablers. The real problem is a society that places no store in women as equals.

Throwing money at the issue through, for example, the Solidarity Fund won’t make it go away. Nor will marches under the disturbingly proprietorial banner, “Not our women”. And, sadly, the interventions Ramaphosa announced – an update on his five-point plan to halt gender-based violence – remain after-the-fact Band-Aids rather than proactive prevention.

SA needs to confront its violent past if it wants any hope of a better future.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on June 17 2020 announced the easing of restrictions during the level 3 coronavirus lockdown.