South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday unveiled a raft of plans to tighten laws to fight rape and murder of women as the nation reels from high profile murders in recent days.
“Violence against women has become more than a national crisis,” he said in an address to the nation broadcast on national television and radio stations.
“It is a crime against our common humanity. Our nation is in mourning and pain. Over the past few days, our country has been deeply traumatised by acts of extreme violence perpetrated by men against women and children. These acts of violence have made us doubt the very foundation of our democratic society, our commitment to human rights and human dignity, to equality, to peace and to justice.”
His address came after two consecutive days of protests in Cape Town, demanding an end to the scourge of rape and murder of women.
At least 137 sexual offences are committed per day, mainly against women, according to official figures.
Women Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said this week that more than 30 women were killed by their spouses last month alone.
The Cape Town rallies were prompted by recent brutal murders that have triggered outrage and much soul-searching in a country that is seen as one of the world’s most dangerous places for women and often appears numb to murder and sexual violence.
In one case, University of Cape Town student, Uyinene “Nene” Mrwetyana, 19, was raped and bludgeoned to death when she went to a post office on August 24.
And on Friday boxing champion, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, 25, was allegedly shot dead by her partner, who was a police officer.
In another, a man on Tuesday hung his three children aged between four and 10, and his teenager step-daughter in a fit of rage allegedly over a divorce row with their mother in southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
‘Harsher sentences’ –
“These killings have caused great pain and outrage because acts of such brutality have become all too common in our communities,” said Ramaphosa.
“I am appalled at the war being waged on our sisters, our mothers, our wives, our partners and our daughters.”
Ramaphosa on Thursday left the World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town early to accept a memorandum delivered to parliament by a mass demonstration of mainly women.
“Enough is enough and we are going to act,” Ramaphosa told the women.
“Men that kill and rape must stay in jail for life.”
“The law must change that once you have raped and kill you get life, no bail!” Ramaphosa told the angry crowd.
He has directed parliament to identify “emergency interventions” as he sought “harsher minimum” sentences for crimes against women and children.
The country has since 2013 established 92 sexual offences courts and 11 more will be opened this year to accelerate conviction rates, he said.
“I agree completely that the killing of women must be bought to an end here in South Africa,” he said. pledging “we will use every means at the disposal of the state”.
On Wednesday, around 500 women demonstrated against South Africa’s “femicide epidemic” in front of Cape Town International Conference Centre, where a three-day World Economic Forum on Africa was opening.
The WEF on Thursday held a discussion panel on eradicating violence against women in Africa.
One of the panelist, founder of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Nigeria, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said “violence against women determines whether a society will be stable -– we need decent humans for society to be stable”.
Last year, South Africa recorded a 6.9 per cent increase in the number of murders countrywide, with an average of 57 murders committed each day.
Portugal freezes Isabel dos Santos bank accounts
The public prosecutor’s office requested the seizure of bank accounts belonging to Isabel dos Santos as part of a request for international judicial cooperation by the Angolan authorities.
The Portuguese government has ordered the seizure of bank accounts belonging to Isabel dos Santos, who is a suspect in a fraud investigation in Angola, the country’s public prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was not immediately available for comment, a Reuters report said. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the past weeks.
“The public prosecutor’s office requested the seizure of bank accounts (belonging to Isabel dos Santos) as part of a request for international judicial cooperation by the Angolan authorities,” a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said.
Portugal’s central bank declined to comment
Last month, Angola named dos Santos a formal suspect over allegations of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds during her time as chairwoman of state oil company Sonangol.
Dos Santos has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Angolan authorities froze her assets in the African country in December.
A banking source familiar with the case told Reuters that accounts held by dos Santos were seized at Millennium bcp, Portugal’s largest listed bank.
Millennium bcp declined to comment on Tuesday.
Another banking source said accounts were seized at small Portuguese bank EuroBic, in which the businesswoman until recently held a 42.5% stake. Spanish bank Abanca said on Monday it had agreed to buy 95% of EuroBic shares.
Eurobic declined to comment.
Dos Santos also sold her controlling stake in Portuguese engineering firm Efacec last month.
Eskom’s bid for bigger tariffs rejected by South African court
Eskom’s urgent bid for larger electricity tariff increases has been rejected by the Pretoria High Court in a fresh setback for the cash-strapped South African power utility.
The utility lodged an urgent application with the court for a tariff increase of 16.6% from April and a rise of 16.7% from April 2021 to compensate for what it says is an error by energy regulator, Nersa.
On Monday, the court ruled that the utility had failed to prove that its dispute with Nersa was urgent, meaning that Eskom will now likely face months of court hearings as it argues its case with the regulator.
Eskom believes Nersa miscalculated its tariffs for the financial years beginning in 2019 to 2021 by treating 4.8 billion of bailouts which the utility has been promised as revenue.
Last year, Nersa set Eskom’s tariff rises at 9.4% for 2019/20, 8.1% for 2020/21 and 5.2% for 2021/22
Eskom supplies more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity but is struggling with high debts and power stations in need of refurbishment.
It has been forced to impose several rounds of severe power cuts in the past year that have dented the country’s economic growth.
“The judge indicated that ‘Nersa violated the basic principle of accounting by treating an equity injection as revenue’,” Eskom declared in a statement regarding the ruling.
Nersa will comment after it has studied the judgment, a spokesman said.
AngloGold Picks Harmony to Buy South African Assets
AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. has picked Harmony Gold Mining Co. as the buyer for its last remaining South African operations.
The company looks to sell the assets as Chief Executive Officer, Kelvin Dushnisky focuses on more profitable mines in Ghana, Australia and the Americas.
Harmony, backed by billionaire, Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals Ltd. is hunting for deals to replenish declining reserves in South Africa. Harmony paid $300 million for AngloGold’s Moab Khotsong mine in 2017.
Mponeng, the world’s deepest mine, produced 265,000 ounces of gold in 2018, while output from the surface operations, which extract the precious metal from ore dumps, totalled 171,000 ounces. Those South African assets accounted for about 13% of AngloGold’s production that year.
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