President Cyril Ramaphosa has denounced the gang rape of eight women near Krugersdorp and called on communities in the area to work with police to “ensure that these criminals are apprehended and prosecuted”.

The President was addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter.

The women were attacked and raped by a group of men while filming a music video in a disused mine near the town.

“Rapists have no place in our society. Our communities must not shelter criminals in their midst. I call on anyone who has information about this crime to report it to the authorities so the perpetrators can be arrested.

“There is always someone in our communities who knows something, who heard something or who even witnessed something. The problem is many of us choose to keep quiet because the perpetrator is a friend, a partner or a colleague. Or we are just afraid and fear victimisation. It is important to remember that all tip-offs received by the SAPS Crime Stop contact centre are treated confidentiality,” the President said.

President Ramaphosa highlighted that according to new legislation, every person now is legally bound to report sexual offences.

“[In] addition to our moral obligation, we all now have a legal duty to report to authorities when we have knowledge, reasonable belief or suspicion that a sexual offence has been committed against a vulnerable person. It is now a crime not to report such a sexual offence.

“This is part of one of three laws that I signed earlier this year that strengthen the fight against gender-based violence and offer greater support and protection to survivors,” he said.

Furthermore, the President said, prosecutors and magistrates are being trained, directives on bail are being issued and charge sheets are being revised in order to bring these new laws into life.

Community involvement

The President acknowledged that gender based violence and femicide is a “deep-rooted societal problem” and urged society to work together with government to address the drivers of the problem – including patriarchy.

“This means promoting positive attitudes around gender equality in our communities, at our places of worship and in our own homes. As men, we should demonstrate our intolerance to sexism, patriarchy and gender-based violence in how we treat our partners, colleagues, mothers, sisters and daughters.

“Whether as individuals, organisations, businesses or employers, we must be part of the national effort in every way we can, whether volunteering at a shelter, supporting community policing forums or joining awareness campaigns in our schools.

“Just as gender-based violence is all of society’s problem, it is all of society’s responsibility to bring it to a decisive end,” President Ramaphosa said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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