Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, expresses her outrage and concern at war being waged on women and children as revealed in the 4th quarter crime statistics released by Minister of Police Mr Bheki Cele.

The statistics cover the first three months of 2022 and paint a horrific picture of the extent of violence against women and children, particularly girls, in South Africa.

Minister Cele indicated that there is an increase in the number of contact crimes, particularly murders and sexual violence, as exposed by the spike in statistics.

In addition, Minister Cele echoed the sentiments expressed by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane on the need to take decisive action by society at large to respond to the prevalence of violence in our communities.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane has consistently indicated that the crimes reported by the media remain the tip of the iceberg on the violence experienced by women and children.

Many researchers, academics, and activists working in the gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) sector put this figure much higher due to the increasing number of unsolved murder and assault cases still under investigation.

“Although the current statistics paint a horrific picture of violence in our homes and communities, the unfortunate reality is that there are many who continue to suffer from extreme forms of violence in silence. Therefore, we are really faced with a shadow pandemic of violence against women and children,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Over the past few months, we have witnessed some of the most gruesome acts of violence against women and children, including the murder of 35-year old Singwa Namhla Mtwa, who was allegedly shot and murdered outside her home in Sidwadwa in Mthatha, the inexplicable killing of six-year-old Bontle Mashiyane who was found murdered in Mganduzweni outside White River, with her womb and knees removed, and the raping and sexual exploitation of a 2-year-old child by the 52-year-old Wikus van Deventer in Paarl, Western Cape. While these cases garnered widespread condemnation, they form part of a much wider pandemic of violence against women and children.

While these cases garnered widespread condemnation, they form part of a much wider pandemic of violence against women and children.

“As a society, we often underestimate the barbaric nature of violence against women and children. If we do not act with urgency collectively, we run the risk of reversing some of the great milestones we have achieved in advancing and protecting the rights of women and children,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

During January 2022 to March 2022 (90 days) period, the South African Police Services (SAPS) reported 13 799 sexual offences, of which 10 818 were cases of rape. This is approximately 153 sexual offences every day!

“These are not just numbers but reflect the thousands of women and children who are victims of sexual offences. These numbers represent our people,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

The Quarter Four Crime Statistics 2021/2022 reinforce a worrying picture of the extent of violence in our country. A serious cause for concern is the increasing number of murder and assault grievous bodily harm (GBH) cases of children under the age of 17 years.

There are 83 more child murders being committed in the period January to March 2022 compared to the same period last year. The total number of children murdered increased to 306, with 331 cases of attempted murder and 1 937 cases of Assaults’ GBH.

A further 2,048 children were victims of physical Assaults’. In addition, the increasing trend of kidnapping and trafficking is very worrisome given that these types of crimes are difficult to report on, as many children who are kidnapped and trafficked are reported missing but are never found.

These stats were released as the country commemorated National Child Protection Week between 29 May- 05 June, under the theme, Let us all Protect Children during COVID-19 and Beyond. “We can no longer ignore how high levels of violence remain a threat to the social, cognitive, and physical development of the future of our country. We cannot celebrate our democracy at the expense of the livelihoods of our children,” emphasized Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

As we commence with Youth Month under the theme: “Promoting sustainable livelihood and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow”, we are particularly sensitive to the lived realities of young women who remain most vulnerable to various forms of gender-based violence, including femicide.

As reported in the 4th quarter crime statistics, 13 305 cases of Assault GBH took place in residences of the perpetrator or victim (including residences known by victims/perpetrator, e.g. family/friends/neighbours) and educational institutions (including schools, universities, college, daycare facilities) recorded 195 cases of assault GBH during the same period.

“The persistent threat of violence does hinder the ability to build a resilient, youthful population that will advocate and lead the development trajectory of our country. The issue of violence is more than just a physical battle.

It has a direct impact on the development of South Africa,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

A staggering 4,653 rapes took place at the home of the rape victim or at the home of the rapist. The reported cases alcohol was reported to play a role in 1 290 of these cases. The Eastern Cape’s Lusikisiki Police Station, Inanda Station in KwaZulu-Natal and Delft Police Station in the Western Cape recorded the highest incidents of rape for this quarter.

These locations form part of the 30 GBV Hotspots of South Africa, as announced by Minister Cele in 2020. The high rates of rape occur against the backdrop of 66 prevention and awareness programmes being conducted at the top 30 GBV Hotspot police stations across the country during the month of May. To ensure coordinated responses are developed and implemented to respond to GBV in these areas, the Rapid Response teams have been established in Nelson Mandela Metro Municipality, Alfred Nzo District; OR Tambo District and Lusikisiki; Umlazi, Inanda, Kwa-Mashu, and Ntuzuma.

The Quarter Four Crime Statistics 2021/2022 paint a daunting picture of South Africa. The uncomfortable reality is that there is no place in society where women and children are spared from the shadow pandemic of GBVF. For us to fully address the scourge, we can no longer take a passive approach, but instead, we need to invest and strengthen coordinated responses across all spheres of society – especially in our communities.

Equally, we must challenge the toxic and violent norms and values that perpetuate the violence in our homes, schools, workplaces and churches. We need collective action to report criminality and intervene as communities in promoting the prevention of crimes.