The War at Home – GBV in South Africa

30 JUNE 2020

“The Scourge of Gender-Based Violence against Women and Femicide”


Women are traditionally the heart of the home – they nurture and care for their families – yet in South Africa the home has become a battlefield.

Daily news reports are just the tip of the iceberg, detailing horrific, brutal acts of violence against women and children in our communities, across the entire country. In South Africa, five times more women are murdered by their intimate partners than anywhere else in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). This means that the people responsible for these crimes are often not strangers, but someone the victims should have been able to trust…

Unfortunately, the living circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic have merely served to amplify what President Ramaphosa himself recently described as the “second pandemic” – the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV). Women and children have been forced – by law – to remain inside their homes, a space where, according to Stats SA, 57.8% of females are likely to experience assault.

Then, add further fuel to the fire with the dangerous repercussions of alcohol abuse, and you have a recipe for disaster.

According to a WHO Policy Briefing, 44% of victims of interpersonal violence in South Africa believed that their attacker had been under the influence of alcohol.

Why then, faced with these facts, did President Ramaphosa lift the ban on alcohol sales on 1 June 2020, when South Africa moved to Level 3 under the National Lockdown, and yet still call for South Africans to remain confined in their homes?

Since 1 June, Police Minister, Bheki Cele, reported an increase in murders and cases of GBV. Further, the Western Cape Women’s Shelter Movement reported that shelters for victims of GBV filled up in the week following the lifting of the alcohol ban. Almost daily, South Africans read of yet another woman or child that has been mutilated and killed.

Enough is enough.

For too long, GBV has been making headlines, and government has been making empty promises. In 2018, #TotalShutdown movement resulted in the 2018 Presidential Summit on GBVF, with an Interim Steering Committee established in April 2019 to respond to the GBV crisis, which eventually resulted in the publication of the National Strategic Plan On Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP) in 2020. We have the Strategic Plan – where is the Action Plan? The time for consultation and conversation is over.

The IFP calls on government to reconsider its regulations relating to the sale of alcohol – ideally the complete ban should be reinstated while South Africans are still living under Lockdown, or more stringent regulations should be applied regarding availability and cost. Regulating the price of alcohol might help to restrict sales and access to alcohol.

The IFP calls on government to consider harsher sentences for perpetrators of GBV – the punishment must fit the crime, and act as a deterrent, not just a slap on the wrist. Possibly, it might be time to re-visit the death penalty, so that those that violently steal the lives of innocent women and children have to forfeit their own lives.

The IFP calls on government, political parties, civil society, faith-based organisations and all South Africans who refuse to stand by as this war on women and children in our communities takes place, to come together to fight this GBV pandemic. #StaySafe shouldn’t just apply to Covid-19, but to GBV too – and it should be #StaySafe #SpeakUp. We need to end the culture of silence around GBV so as to intervene before it is too late, and our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues become just another statistic…

Mthokozisi Nxumalo, MP
IFP Youth Brigade National Chairperson
[email protected]
072 819 5153