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South Africa struggles with surge of gender-based violence3 min read

South Africa has been hit by protests against femicide over the past few weeks after a series of murders that shocked the public

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South Africa struggles with surge of gender-based violence
A man holds a banner reading "No woman will be killed in my name" during the "One Nation, One Voice" campaign to remove the scourge of child abuse, femicide and other social ills facing all communities in South Africa on June 30, 2018 in Durban. (Photo by RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)

Broken, cream-coloured tiles form a mosaic of a woman’s face in the entrance hall of a South African shelter for abused women. Branches extending from her head are painted across the wall, decorated with colourful leaves.

“The face represents the broken women who arrive” here, says the director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Bernadine Bachar.

“The branches show the healing, growth and final empowerment they experience through the programmes we offer.”

The centre in Athlone, on the outskirts of Cape Town, is a 24-hour safe house for women and children who have been victims of abuse.

The shelter can take up to 120 women at a time with their children –- and they are usually at full capacity.

#AmINext –

South Africa has been hit by protests against femicide over the past few weeks after a series of murders that shocked the public.

Among them was a student from Cape Town who was raped and killed in a post office.

South Africa struggles with surge of gender-based violence
Women hold signs and shout slogans as they protest to demand police protection against gender-based violence in solidarity with women who have been subjected to violence and in memory of those who have been killed, inside the Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Head Quarters of the South African Police Services (SAPS) in Durban, on September 7, 2019. (Photo by Rajesh JANTILAL / AFP)

Women’s Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that more than 30 women were killed by their spouses last month.

The hashtag #AmINext has been trending, with protesters demanding immediate action from the government.

Some of them have called for the return of the death penalty and for a state of emergency to be declared.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an emergency plan to stop the resurgence in violence against women on Wednesday.

During an emergency sitting in the National Assembly, he said South Africa was one of “the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman”.

The Western Cape Women’s Shelter Movement (WCWSM) protested outside parliament during the talks, demanding it consider the significant role played by safe houses for women and children.

Bachar says urgent action is needed.

“We’ve absolutely seen an increase in gender-based violence over the past three months,” she says. 

“Not only has the number of women (affected) increased but they’re suffering from more intensive injuries than they used to before.”

According to Bachar, they are seeing a lot more burn victims, particularly from boiling water thrown at the face, and an increase in stab victims.

She blames this on a lack of government intervention, high levels of substance abuse and an unprecedented increase in unemployment rates that result in “a lack of power and control which drives gender-based violence”.

‘Dripping with blood’ –

Bachar also accuses the police of not taking the victims seriously and says they need to undergo special training to equip them with the necessary skills to deal with cases of sexist violence.

People from various religious church formations shout slogans as they march during the “One Nation, One Voice” campaign to remove the scourge of child abuse, femicide and other social ills facing all communities in South Africa on June 30, 2018 in Durban. (Photo by RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)

One abuse survivor, Rachel Petersen, recounted a bitter experience with authorities.

“I went to the police, and I was dripping with blood, but they still wouldn’t help me. They said they don’t get involved in ‘house issues’,” Petersen says.

The 44-year-old, who currently lives and works at the abused women centre, blames a lack of education and awareness for the problem.

“I was always taught by my grandmother that as a wife it is my job to be submissive. Before I came to this centre I didn’t even know what abuse meant,” she said.

The centre receives funding from the Department of Social Development — but Bachar says that only covers 40 per cent of the annual cost of running the shelter.

She says it needs a further R6 million, but raising that amount is “impossible”.

“Increased funding would mean we could uniformly extend our services to more survivors.”

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East Africa Politics News

Kenya, Lesotho Strengthen Bilateral Ties with Three Agreements

In an effort to boost bilateral ties and cooperation between the two African nations, Kenya and the Kingdom of Lesotho have today signed three key pacts; an agreement on the establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC), a Memorandum of Understanding for Bilateral consultations as well as a Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Sports.

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In an effort to boost bilateral ties and cooperation between the two African nations, Kenya and the Kingdom of Lesotho have today signed three key pacts; an agreement on the establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC), a Memorandum of Understanding for Bilateral consultations as well as a Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Sports.

The agreement on the establishment of a JCC will enable the two countries to identify and explore areas of cooperation while the MOU on sports will provide an opportunity for development of sports as an economic activity. The agreement on Bilateral Consultations on the other hand, will pave the way for the two countries to hold consultations on both bilateral and multilateral matters affecting the two countries at regional, continental and global levels.

The deals were signed at the end of talks held between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Right Hon. Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, at the State House, Nairobi.

Prime Minister Thabane arrived in Nairobi last evening for a three-day state visit and was formally received today morning by his host, President Kenyatta at a colourful ceremony that included a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Kenya Army and a 19-gun salute.

During his visit, Prime Minister Thabane will lay a wreath at the Mausoleum of Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as well as visit the United Nations complex in Gigiri among other engagements.

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Botswana president vows to fight embezzlement at inauguration ceremony

President Mokgweetsi Masisi at his swearing-in ceremony promised to fight graft

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BOTSWANA-POLITICS-INAUGURATION
The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi (C) is being sworn in as the 5th President of Botswana by the chief justice, Terence Rannowane (2R) while the First Lady Neo J Masisi (L) looks on, in Gaborone on November 1, 2019. (Photo by Monirul Bhuiyan / AFP)

Botswana’s newly re-elected President Mokgweetsi Masisi was sworn in on Friday during a ceremony snubbed by his predecessor after the two former allies fell out in a highly public feud.

In a speech before several thousand supporters, Masisi promised to tackle corruption in diamond-rich Botswana, which has been seen across Africa as a beacon of stability and democracy.

Masisi did not mention his predecessor, Ian Khama, who has been embroiled in a dispute with the president since last year and who himself is now entangled in a corruption scandal.

The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi (4L), inspecting the Guard of Honour after being sworn in as the 5th President of Botswana, in Gaborone on 1 November 2019. (Photo by Monirul Bhuiyan / AFP)

“My government will put in place… mechanisms through the application of practices of good governance to ensure that corruption is defeated,” Masisi said.

“I am committed to the rule of law in this country in order to enhance confidence in this country and send a message to all of us that the law must be abided by or face the consequences of non-compliance.”  

Read: Backers of ex-Botswana president summoned to disciplinary hearings

Khama, whose father founded the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) that has ruled since independence from Britain in 1966, has renounced his hand-picked successor Masisi and accused him of authoritarianism.

According to the programme for Friday’s ceremony, Khama was supposed to attend, but he did not show up.

The feud between the two men erupted soon after Khama stepped down at the end of his second five-year term and handed power to Masisi. The president was elected in October general polls, though the opposition called the vote rigged.

Khama and two others — a former intelligence chief, and a South African businesswoman — have been accused of embezzling more than $9 billion in public funds since 2018.

Khama has dismissed the accusations as “ridiculous”.

“This is just fake news designed deliberately to discredit me,” the former leader told reporters.

The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, delivers his speech after being sworn in as the 5th President of the country
The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, delivers his speech after being sworn in as the 5th President of the country in Gaborone on November 1, 2019. (Photo by Monirul Bhuiyan / AFP)

In a statement on Friday, Khama’s lawyers denounced the allegations as fabricated and an attempt to “settle personal vendettas”.

“Our client will launch a thorough investigation of all the allegations made against him, in order to clear his name, offer the nation the truth, and expose this clandestine conspiracy by some government institutions to assassinate his character,” it said.

The businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe also denied the accusations against her in a press conference on Thursday.

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South Africa police clash with protesting refugees

South African police clash with protesters camping at the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) offices

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S.Africa police collide with protesting refugees
Police eviction of the refugees and asylum seekers protesting in front of the UNHCR offices in Cape Town, South Africa. October 30th 2019.

South African police on Wednesday arrested around 100 foreign nationals occupying an office building in Cape Town as part of a sit-in protest against xenophobia, later releasing many of them. 

Hundreds of asylum-seekers have been camping at UN refugee agency (UNHCR) offices in South Africa’s capital Pretoria and the coastal city of Cape Town since October 8.

The foreign nationals were detained after clashes broke out when the protesters refused to be evicted from the Waldorf Arcade — a 12-storey office block in Cape Town’s central business district.

Large groups of the refugees were seen walking out of the police station by a reporter on Wednesday evening. Police were not available for comment.

Police eviction of the refugees and asylum seekers protesting in front of the UNHCR offices in Cape Town, South Africa. October 30th 2019

Singing and crying, they carried one of their fellow detained community leaders on their shoulders to the nearby Central Methodist mission.

The church, where many of those released will take shelter, called on the community to help.

Mainly from other African nations, the foreigners say they are fed up with being ill-treated and discriminated against.

Read: Dozens of foreigners appeal to UN for deportation from South Africa

They have asked the United Nations to relocate them to another country, claiming they no longer feel safe in South Africa after a surge of xenophobic attacks last month. 

Protesters banged on pots and plastic bottles, chanting “xenophobia government” and “police xenophobia”.

Police eviction of the refugees and asylum seekers protesting in front of the UNHCR offices in Cape Town, South Africa. October 30th 2019

Eviction notice –

Wednesday’s Cape Town sit-in overflowed into the building housing the UN’s office, prompting the landlord to apply for their eviction.

In a statement, police said about 100 people had been arrested after “they failed to heed the call to disperse”.

Clashes broke out as police fired water guns and stun grenades to break up the crowds. 

The UN called on the protesters to “respect the laws” and “return peacefully to their residences”.

South Africa is home to 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers, according to government statistics. They are mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and DR Congo.

The country boasts some of the world’s most progressive asylum policies, allowing foreigners to apply for refugee status within the country itself and to work during the process.

But the UN has voiced concern over the more than 50,000 pending asylum claims — the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

Police eviction of the refugees and asylum seekers protesting in front of the UNHCR offices in Cape Town, South Africa. October 30th 2019

Rights groups say the number of people granted refugee status has remained unchanged for the past decade.

As one of the continent’s most industrialised economy, South Africa is also a magnet for migrants seeking better job prospects.

Seen as competing with locals for work, foreigners are often the first to come under fire when South Africa’s chronic unemployment and inequality boils into resentment.

Xenophobic violence left at least 62 dead in 2008. Seven people were killed in 2015 and 12 died in the latest spate of attacks this year — most of the South African. The incidents occurred mainly in the Johannesburg area.

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