Joint special sitting of the two Houses of Parliament on the incidents of killings of women around the country

Contribution by the Hon. Ms L.L. van der Merwe MP
Inkatha Freedom Party
18 September 2019

Deputy Speaker,

At the weekend, the devastated mother of a 24-year-old woman, whose body was found dumped in Gugulethu, said she hoped that her tears would not be in vain. I mention her, because she was speaking to you, Mr President, to our Government and to all of us seated in this House today.

I mention her, because when Anene Booysen died, when Karabo Mokoena died, when little Courtney Pieters died – we were promised that the tears of their families would not be in vain.

Government pledged then that things will change. But the reality is, as we have convene this urgent Joint Sitting today, and as our nation now faces a national crime crisis, that nothing has changed.

Mr President, I agree that we must all take collective responsibility for this crisis.  I agree that we must all take responsibility for our failures to protect the most vulnerable in society.

We commend the initiative you took today and the intentions you have outlined. We pledge our full support and commit our focused attention to this fight.

Mr President, I sometimes wonder whether the state of our nation keeps you and your Government up at night.

I ask, because the reality is that millions of South Africans have sleepless nights, because they live in fear for their lives. They live in fear for their lives because, as you admitted over the weekend, ours is a lawless country. A country that now resembles a war zone. Where our lives mean nothing. Where women face war on our streets, at home, in the workplace, at school – even at the post office.

To date, the disjunction between what our women endure, and what our Government does in response, has been alarmingly inadequate.

We were promised a National Council Against Gender Based Violence in 2012. It didn’t happen. Year after year, during the State of the Nation address, we are promised interventions to fight gender-based violence, most of which have come to naught. Even during this year’s SONA we were promised funds for shelters and for the fight against gender-based violence in general. We have yet to see these rands and cents materialize. And so we hope that the budget you have promised today will be allocated without further delay.

Deputy Speaker,

Let me be clear: we don’t need more promises. We need a Government that will deliver on its promises. Beyond the rhetoric we need urgent action now. Beyond the outrage, we need urgent change now.

We need a social worker in every community. We need to fund and expand shelter services. We need to fund NGOs. Capacitate the police force. Enforce the rule of law, empower the Department of Women in the Presidency. We need to hold to account Departments that fail our women – starting with the Justice Department. We need an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with South Africa’s national crime crisis. We need to lead a campaign of moral revival in our communities. We need rape kits at all police stations. We need to teach gender equality at school level.

As a start.

Mr President, we have tasked the rank and file of the IFP, every councillor, mayor, MP and MPL to prioritize the fight against gender-based violence.

Also allow me this opportunity, on behalf of the IFP to thank each and every South African who have taken to the streets in recent weeks united in their resolve to end this crisis. We agree – enough is enough!

Mr President, it is clear that arresting the economic decline, the violence, hate, racism, our porous borders, the undocumented migrant crisis and lawlessness that has besieged our nation will be the biggest test of your Presidency.

By announcing the interventions you have outlined today, you have shown that you have the courage to act. What remains to be seen is whether you and your Government have the courage to govern, the courage to do what is right and the courage to save our nation from becoming a failed state. We stand ready to play our part.

Liezl van der Merwe MP
IFP Spokesperson on Social Development
082 729 2510