Inside SA's Rape Stats

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Talking about Gender-Based Violence is Not Enough 
According to the crime statistics for the period October to December 2021, 902 women were murdered, with 232 of these murders directly linked to domestic violence. During the same time, 11 315 rape cases were reported, which on average translates to 123 cases a day. While there was a 9% decrease in sexual offences, the statistics often do not reflect the real situation because such cases are under-reported.

Sexual violence researcher Gorata Chengeta says gender-based violence does not occur in a vacuum and the statistics need to be read alongside other relevant data to understand its causes as well as the reasons behind changes in the number of cases.

Abused women are at the mercy of men and the police
“Due to the nature of such offences, only a minority of them are reported to the police. We take statistics, whether they are positive or negative, with a grain of salt, knowing that they alone cannot explain the shifts in reported cases and that it is always important to understand the why behind any changes," she says.

In 2021, Statistics South Africa released a report, Crimes Against Women in South Africa, indicating that one in five women (21%) had experienced physical violence by a partner. In 2015, South Africa's femicide rate was nearly four times that of the global figure, while a woman was killed every four hours in South Africa in 2016. At least half of them were murdered by an intimate partner.  

The murder of Karabo Mokoena, 22, who was killed by her partner in his Sandton apartment in 2017, was said to have been done so that his business would prosper. His sentencing in May 2018 came two days after student Zolile Khumalo, 21, was murdered in her university residence in Durban. Her killer could not accept her ending their relationship. 

In yet another disturbing case, the heavily pregnant Tshegofatso Pule, 28, was found hanging from a tree in Durban Deep,  Roodepoort, in June 2020. Acting Judge Stuart Wilson reserved judgement in the case against the alleged mastermind of the murder, her married boyfriend Ntuthuko Shoba. Shoba will be back in court on 4 March when the defence will apply to reopen the case before judgement is delivered. A hitman who carried out the murder was given a 20-year sentence last year.

Financial dependency 
Women, and African women, in particular, are the most affected by unemployment in South Africa, rendering them economically vulnerable and open to abuse. Statistics show that financial dependence plays a role in domestic violence and often causes women to return to their abusive partners. "Where the perpetrator and victim are in a romantic relationship, victims are often unable to leave because they are financially dependent on the perpetrator," says Chengeta. "Gender-based violence cannot be fought without us also fighting to address economic inequality in the country. At the moment, civil society actors and activist groups are calling for an increase of the R350 social relief of distress grant for a wider basic income grant to be instituted as soon as possible. If implemented, such measures could contribute to addressing sexual violence, in that they would lessen the economic vulnerability of marginalized groups and enable victims to escape cycles of violence."

In his maiden budget speech on 23 February, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana allocated R44 billion to extend the much-needed social relief of distress grant, but he cautioned that a basic income grant was not on the cards. 

(Read the full article here that was published on 25 Feb 2022).

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