The Gauteng Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday 22 August led more than 100 women on a march to five criminal justice state organisations, demanding the transformation of the judicial system to help eradicate gender-based violence.
The EFF’s Women’s Month march went from Westgate Transport Hub in Johannesburg and stopped at the offices of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the public protector, the Commission for Gender Equality and South African Police Service (SAPS). The EFF members handed over a series of demands to each organisation as they marched and sang and held hands.
EFF Gauteng chairperson and organiser of the event, Mandisa Mashego, read out the list of demands to each organisation and had them signed by a representative of that organisation.
“We call for the suspension of all police officers who have been alleged to have abused physically, sexually and/or otherwise victims of gender-based violence and sexual violence,” Mashego said at the Ipid offices in Johannesburg.
“Additionally, we also want to urge Ipid, the way we are going to urge the public protector, to make sure that they have accessible officers.”
The women demanded that the NPA become a Chapter 9 institution to ensure it would be held liable by Parliament. Mashego said an independent NPA would help the fight against gender-based violence (GBV).
“Under the current arrangement you are highly compromised and extremely ineffective for poor black communities,” Mashego said.
The EFF expressed disappointment in the Commission of Gender Equality, which it said had failed to act in the interests of women.
“Their role is very significant, but you don’t know them. You are seeing them today, but they have been around for years,” Mashego told the EFF supporters.
Among the many demands, the EFF asked “that procedures and policies relating to reporting cases of gender-based violence against women, children, people living with disabilities and people in the LGBTQIA community at all Commission of Gender Equality offices are openly and clearly communicated including in mother tongue [languages]”.
The EFF wanted to see more support from SAPS as well as a sense of urgency in cases of GBV.
“Rape is happening as I speak,” Mashego said as she read out the list of demands to SAPS officers.
“I feel like women as a whole, especially black women, are always isolated in public spaces. Even in such a way when you go to criminal justice organisations like SAPS to report cases of rape and violence, we are not given enough attention,” EFF supporter Zomlando Biyela told Daily Maverick.
The EFF has demanded that better support systems be put in place for handling cases of GBV. It wants to see social workers in SAPS offices and an established post-trauma centre for survivors of GBV. It has asked for police officers to be better trained to handle cases of GBV.
“There should be compulsory special education of police officers on gender justice through the establishment of special sex and sexual assault units,” Mandisa said. “These are our non-negotiable demands.”
In April 2019, EFF women marched to the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg to raise awareness of how women are treated in the judicial system when it comes to GBV.
“We said that we would be back,” Mashego said.“Now look, we are back.” DM
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