Last week, missing eight-year-old Tazne van Wyk was found dead in Phillipi after being reported missing by her mother in Grassy Park on the Cape Peninsula. The police later revealed that a 48-year-old man had been arrested in connection with her death.
What was chilling and angered the community even more was that it was discovered that the suspect, who lived in her neighbourhood, was an ex-convict who had absconded from his parole officers. This failure in our legal system should not have happened nor should it have affected an innocent soul. But then again there are too many cases of should’ve could’ve and would’ve in our country.
These are just some of the things that should be urgently fixed to make these horrific crimes stop. It’s way overdue.
1.Finalise the national strategic plan on gender-based violence:
When the president addressed Total Shutdown movement protesters who were demonstrating against the violence perpetrated against women and children in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted it was a crisis and urgent attention was needed and even convened a National Summit against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.
The summit was held in November 2018 and one of the outcomes was the development of a national strategy to combat gender-based violence. This document was drafted and is still a draft. Let us finalise it so we can start implementing it.
2.Fix the parole system:
Van Wyk was found murdered in a storm-water drain just outside Worcester last week following her disappearance earlier this month. Her alleged killer, Moyhdian Pangarker, has 11 criminal convictions including murder, and was transgressing his parole conditions at the time of her disappearance.
3.Review laws on sexual offences:
According to Statistics SA, one in five women older than 18 in South Africa has experienced physical violence from a partner, making SA one of the world’s most unsafe countries for women. Since SA has one of the highest incidences of gender-based violence against women and children, our laws should reflect this. There should be harsher minimum sentences for perpetrators of crimes against women and children.
4.Make the public offenders list public:
It’s a crisis situation so let’s make the national sexual offenders list public.
5.Mandate employment vetting processes at all workplaces:
Nineteen-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally murdered when she went to pick up a parcel at the Post Office. Her attacker, post office worker Luyanda Botha, lured her into collecting it when he knew the Clareinch Post Office would be closed, and attacked her when she arrived.
Later investigations revealed he had served jail time for a carjacking before his appointment. A further Post Office probe revealed that state security had alerted officials to the accused’s criminal record, but the findings were not escalated and he continued to work for the Post Office.
6.Foster a legal system that doesn’t serve to traumatise victims again:
From the police stations to the courts, officials must treat victims with dignity and not put them through dire emotional stress by being insensitive to the difficulty involved in even stepping forward to report these crimes.
7. Make the courts more effective in dealing with these crimes:
Gender-based violence cases must be prioritised and finalised in an effort to clear the backlog of criminal cases and by extension the backlog at forensic laboratories.