In a televised address from Pretoria, the president said the country was in the midst of two devastating epidemics, the coronavirus and what he described as the “war on women”.
“Over the last few weeks, no fewer than 21 women and children have been killed in South Africa. These women are not just statistics. They have names, and they have families,” Ramaphosa said. “Their killers thought they could silence them. But we will not forget them, and we will speak for them where they cannot.”
Ramaphosa said South Africans needed to ask themselves tough questions over the scourge of gender-based violence against women and children.
He also noted that violent crimes had increased since government lifted restrictions on alcohol sales on 1 June under level 3 lockdown, saying the link between alcohol abuse and GBV had to be interrogated.
The president said crimes like rape and murder were not committed by alcohol, but rather these crimes were committed by men.
“The women of our country are being raped, they are being killed by men,” he said.
Ramaphosa also commended the police for arresting most of the perpetrators in these cases, saying the perpetrators of GBV should be handed sentences that were suitable.
He mentioned the women who were recently killed in the country as a result of GBV and femicide like Tshegofatso Pule. The 28-year-old’s body was found hanging from a tree with multiple stab wounds in Durban Deep, Roodepoort, last week. She was eight-months pregnant.
Her alleged killer, Muzikayise Malephane (31) appeared before the Roodepoort Magistrates Court in connection with her murder.
Malephane refused to apply for bail but requested legal aid representation. The case was postponed to Wednesday.
At the same time, Ramaphosa said he believed that the country could overcome the scourge of GBV.
“We can overcome gender-based violence and we can overcome this pandemic,” he said.