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.
South Africa’s President Backs Removal Of Apartheid Statues
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has supported the removal of statues that glorify the country’s apartheid past.
“Any symbol, monument or activity that glorifies racism, that represents our ugly past, has no place in democratic South Africa”, he said.
“Monuments glorifying our divisive past should be re-positioned and relocated,” he said in a virtual address on Thursday as the country marked Heritage Day – an annual public holiday to celebrate the country’s diverse cultures.
Mr Ramaphosa said removal of the statues shouldn’t be taken as an erasure of history, but as a way of “being sensitive to the lived experiences of all the country’s people”.
“We make no apologies for this because our objective is to build a united nation,” he added.
The campaign to remove statues of historical apartheid figures has been gained momentum in the country, garnering support mainly from blacks.
READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW
Fellow South Africans,
Dumelang, Molweni, Sanibonani, Goeie Dag, Thobela, Lotjhani, Ndi masiari, Nhlekanhi,
Today we celebrate the unique and diverse heritage of this place we call home: Mzantsi Afrika, Afrika Borwa, Afurika Tshipembe, Suid-Afrika.
Heritage Day is a time to appreciate the many facets of our cultures, customs and traditions.
It is the time when we put them on display to appreciate and celebrate and share our cultures and traditions with others.
We are the nation of the maskandi, Malay choral music and sokkie treffers, but also of amapiano.
We are the nation that is taking the world by storm with the #JerusalemaChallenge, as young and old in France, the UK, Jamaica, Angola and even in Palestinian East Jerusalem itself are getting in on the craze.
We are a nation of eleven official languages that also celebrates other languages commonly used by various communities in South Africa, including German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Portuguese, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
We are a nation that steadfastly protects those indigenous languages that are facing extinction such as N|uu, Nama, isiHlubi, Khelovhedu and other indigenous languages.
The greatest thing about heritage is its dynamism.
Heritage is a source of identity and cohesion for our nation.
It makes us who we are.
Heritage shapes and moulds us, and gives us a sense of belonging.
It is the inheritance passed down from generation to generation, linking the present to the past.
Heritage doesn’t only find expression in dress, rituals, food, music, art and language. It also finds expression in our natural world.
South Africa is the third most mega-biodiverse country in the world with abundant fauna and flora. This is what makes South Africa the most beautiful country in the world.
We are home to the most beautiful sites dating back to antiquity, opening a window into the lives of the earliest ancestors of humankind.
Our indigenous knowledge systems preserved by our elders and traditional healers are a vital part of our heritage.
Long before the advent of modern medicine, our ancestors used the herbs and plants that are so abundant here to heal, to give strength and for sustenance.
This year’s Heritage Day is taking place in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This pandemic has taken a toll on human life, on communities and on our economy.
In this time of the pandemic, we have seen the knowledge of traditional medicinal plants increase.
In as much as we join the international community in the search for diagnostics, therapeutics and a vaccine, we are also looking at the real and important contribution indigenous knowledge systems, particularly traditional medicine, can play in improving the health outcomes of our people.
In Heritage Month we honour those who work so hard to preserve all aspects of our traditional and modern heritage.
We pay tribute to the spirited defenders of our heritage that we have sadly lost this year.
We have lost Achmat Dangor and Elsa Joubert, two celebrated authors whose works gave expression to the human condition under apartheid.
We have had to bid farewell to the musical giant, the founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the father of isicathamiya, uBab Joseph Shabalala.
We have lost the legendary photographer Jürgen Schadeberg.
We have mourned the passing of Ouma Griet Seekoei, one of only remaining speakers of the endangered N|uu language.
We pay tribute to them all, for in their own unique way they have contributed to preserving our past, but also to defending the struggles of the present.
It is because of them, and many like them, that we are today able to celebrate where we have come from.
Yet as there are those who have passed from this life, we have our Living Human Treasures, our repositories of knowledge, customs and traditions.
This Heritage Month is dedicated to Dr Esther Mahlangu, Mama Madosini Latozi Mpahleni and Mama Ouma Katrina Esau.
Dr Mahlangu’s paintings inspired by Ndebele design are on display in more than a dozen countries around the world and her work has won numerous awards.
Mama Madosini, the Queen of Pondoland music, is the greatest living musician who can play the indigenous bow instruments.
Mama Katrina Esau is a champion of the culture of the San people, and is one of the two last remaining speakers of the N|uu language.
Over the years she has single-handedly worked to keep the language alive by running a school for young people.
As part of Heritage Month we have launched three books that acknowledge the efforts of these great women.
Throughout this month we will be promoting greater awareness of their work, especially among young people. We will also promote the work of the many others who are doing so much to conserve our diverse customs and cultures.
Fellow South Africans,
It is important that generations that come after us must fully grasp the importance of the freedom we have all achieved.
The men, women and children of tomorrow must be proud to have inherited a democracy that affirms the worth and dignity of all our citizens.
So long as this country’s women and children live in fear from violence, we cannot regard ourselves as totally free.
So long as women are being harassed, abused, beaten, raped and murdered, we cannot say we are a civilised society.
Abusing women is not our tradition, nor is it our custom.
It is not, and will never be, our heritage.
Throughout the history of this continent, women have built and shaped our societies.
They have ruled kingdoms. They have been highly respected and valued.
We must put an end to this terrible shame that is tainting the image of our country.
When you oppress a woman, you oppress a nation.
When you beat a woman, you beat a nation.
We must do away with practices that discriminate against women.
With the same determination, we must stand firm against attempts to disrespect our country’s women through crude forms of representation in the media, in advertising and in popular culture.
An offensive hair advertisement that was recently published shows that we still have a long way to go.
The apartheid government denigrated our cultures and tried to make us ashamed of our cultures, our traditions, our languages and our very appearances.
It is disheartening to see that in democratic South Africa, there are still crude stereotypes of black women being put on public display.
The social cohesion we seek in this country means we must be mindful of the legacy of our past, whether we are businesses selling products, whether we are producers of content for television, or otherwise.
Building a united nation means we must be aware of and check our own acts of racism and prejudice continuously.
We come from a history of prejudice and exclusion, and since democracy we have worked to transform the heritage landscape of our country.
The naming and renaming of towns and cities forms part of this, as well as the erection of new statues and monuments.
Monuments glorifying our divisive past should be repositioned and relocated.
This has generated controversy, with some saying we are trying to erase our history.
Building a truly non-racial society means being sensitive to the lived experiences of all this country’s people.
We make no apologies for this because our objective is to build a united nation.
Any symbol, monument or activity that glorifies racism, that represents our ugly past, has no place in democratic South Africa.
The struggle against apartheid was first and foremost aimed at ensuring that all our people should reclaim their dignity, black and white.
Restoring their dignity is the preoccupation of this administration.
In the wake of COVID-19, and well into the future, it will remain our singular concern.
We will recover from this crisis and rebuild our lives and our economy.
We will continue to strive to eradicate poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.
We will continue to uphold the rights of all our people to practice their cultures, to speak their languages and practice their traditions.
We will continue to support every effort to preserve our common heritage, as well as those of individual communities.
As much as we celebrate our customs and traditions on this day, let us also appreciate that in practising our cultures freely and openly, and in speaking our native languages, we are reclaiming not just our heritage, but our pride and our dignity as South Africans.
I thank you.
Pro14 And SA Rugby In Talks To Add More South African Teams
The Guinness Pro14 has confirmed that it has begun discussions with SA Rugby about a possible future expansion to include more South African franchises.
The talks could see high profile teams like the high-profile Stormers, Lions, Sharks, and Bulls – who have been playing in Super Rugby – to participate in regular competition with the Irish provinces, as well as the Italian, Scottish, and Welsh sides.
Pro14 Rugby also confirmed that the existing South African franchises, the Cheetahs and Kings, will not feature in the opening half of the new 2020/21 Pro14 season, which is due to get underway in two weekends’ time.
That is due to travel restrictions in the case of the Cheetahs, while the Kings have withdrawn due to their crippling financial situation.
An official statement from Guinness Pro 14 Rugby read:
“On 25 August, Pro14 Rugby acknowledged that under current international travel restrictions it is not possible for South African teams to fulfill Guinness Pro14 fixtures until 2021.
“Pro14 Rugby welcomes the news that the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action.
“SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness Pro14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.
“Additionally, both Pro14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.”
The Pro14 season will kick-off on Friday 2 October with Parma hosting the first fixture of the term against the Cardiff Blues at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Italy.
The Pro14 Conferences will remain the same as for the 2019/20 season in the upcoming campaign in keeping with their two-year rotation of the tables.
Malawi President Makes First Official trip to Zambia
The visit to Zambia is President Chakwera’s first to any country since he was elected Malawi Head of State on June 28th, 2020.
President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi has arrived in Zambia to discuss areas of mutual interest and enhance bilateral relations between both countries.
The visit to Zambia is President Chakwera’s first to any country since he was elected Malawi Head of State on June 28th, 2020.
The Malawi Head of State and his entourage which included First Lady, Monica Chakwera, among other government officials, were received by Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Joseph Malanji, Lusaka Province Minister, Bowman Lusambo, and Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet for administration, Patrick Kangwa as well as other senior government and Patriotic Front (PF) officials.
Upon arrival at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, (KKIA), Dr Chakwera inspected the guard of honour which was preceded with 21 gun salutes and also took time to appreciate Zambia’s’ traditional dance troops and the PF Choir which added exquisiteness to the welcoming ceremony.
Dr Chakwera who is in the country for a one day working visit, is scheduled to lay wreaths at the Presidential Burial Site at Embassy Park in Lusaka and thereafter, hold bilateral talks with President Edgar Lungu at State House.
Zambia and Malawi have a history of collaboration at regional, continental and international levels through the United Nations (UN), the Commonwealth, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
President Chakwera 65, defeated the former President Peter Mutharika in the June Presidential elections, flying the flag of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which has not been in power for 26 years having lost to United Democratic Front (UDF) under former President Bakili Muluzi in 1994.
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