We are here to say, with one united voice, that the spate of gender-based violence taking place across the length and breadth of our land must stop.
We are here to say: Enough is enough! Women and children demand to walk the streets without fear of being raped or brutally assaulted. They have a right to walk the streets of their country without having to look behind them to see who is following them. They demand protection against sexual molesters.
We are here to reiterate our call to the courts of our land to impose the harshest and heaviest possible punishment against those found guilty of crimes against women and children. We believe that those who derive pleasure from abusing women and children must rot in jail.
Violence against women cannot be tolerated in our free and democratic society. It is a gross violation of the Constitutional rights of women. We are here to communicate a clear and unequivocal message that violence against women will not be tolerated in our free and democratic society.
The brutality and ruthless disregard for the lives of women points to a deterioration of the moral fibre of our society. The behaviour of child and women molesters poses fundamental questions to members of the human race. All civilised human beings throughout the world protect their women and children.
The question that must be posed is: what has happened to our spirit of ubuntu that had sustained communities from time immemorial. We urge members of our communities to join hands with government in order to help defeat the scourge of child and women abuse. We urge all South Africans to join this fight. Government, on its own, cannot win this war.
When we know that someone is being abused in our own home or in our neighbour’s house, we have a duty to report it. We also have a duty to stand in court as witnesses to make sure that these abusers are prosecuted successfully.
The key message to every member of the community is: “Don’t look away. Act against abuse”. All of us have a responsibility to help expose those who harm the most vulnerable in our society. As members of our communities, we must make sure that we do not turn a blind eye. We must confront crimes against women with every available ounce of our energy and every available ammunition at our disposal to ensure that those who harm the most vulnerable in society have no place to hide.
We wish to reiterate our call to our courts to ensure that they impose the heaviest possible sentence against those found guilty of women and child abuse. This will send a clear message to all would-be perpetrators that our society and justice system will not tolerate these crimes.
We have to acknowledge the fact that gender-based violence robs women of the opportunity to become productive citizens of the country. It denies them their constitutional rights and condemns them to a life of perpetual fear. They are therefore prevented from enjoying the fruits of our freedom and democracy.
To Anene’s family, I wish to say: You are not alone in this hour of pain. The entire nation shares your grief. Your loss is our loss. We must find solace in the knowledge that Anene’s death will not be in vain. Her death is a clarion call to all of us to intensify the war against gender-based violence! Her death is a national call to action. In the name of Anene, we must make a solemn pledge never to turn a blind eye to abuse and never to allow rape to go unreported and unpunished. This will be the best tribute her.