Families of Hammersdale GBV victims cry foul over SA’s justice system

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Families of victims of gender-based violence in Hammersdale, west of Durban, say that they believe that South African law does not protect the victims. The township has been plagued by violent crimes that includes muthi killings and rape.

The Department of Social Development in the province says police in the area say between December last year to date, there have been over a hundred GBV cases reported.

“After my sister was killed in front of the whole family … well, my nieces, my nephews were begging the killer not to kill her before he killed her. He hit her claiming, why she wasn’t answering a phone. He was angry because she wasn’t answering his calls,” says Sihle Xulu, whose family is still mourning the death of their loved one, Zinhle Xulu.

Zinhle was allegedly assaulted before being shot and killed.

The suspect later handed himself to the police and is now out on R2 000 bail.

Xulu’s sister, Sihle, says they feel let down by the judicial system.

“We expected the killer to be kept behind bars. The police looked for him because he ran away after the incident. After two days, he brought himself to the police at the evening of Tuesday. The following day, on a Wednesday, he got bail of R2 000 without any formal bail hearing … without hearing the side of the family, without considering the threats the families are facing, because they are indirect threats that are directed to us. And even now, our little sister is not with us. She is hiding somewhere because address of directed at her,” adds Sihle.

The Malinga family, also from Hammarsdale, are also grieving the loss of a loved one.

Miriam Malinga was killed by a man her family claims to know. Her brother, Mpilo, says they too feel at risk.

“If police could do their jobs properly, so that the suspects could be arrested quickly. Because as we speak, they are still walking around. Even us, the family, we don’t feel safe,” says Mpilo.

eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and Provincial MEC for Social Development Nonhlanhla Khoza visited the Malinga and Xulu families, among others.

Kaunda says he agrees with the sentiment that the rights of the alleged perpetrators should not come before the victims.

“We are not happy that you can just be granted a bail of R2 000 after you’ve killed a woman in South Africa. So, we think that must be reviewed and there must be a call, a very strong call that the minister should take this forward and we will engage authorities, because we can’t accept it. It’s unacceptable. You come and drive around here drive with vehicle that is unregistered, you continue to intimidate people and then at the end of the day, they have (the freedom) of moving around the area. Even if we recognise your right, but your rights can’t be above other people’s rights,” adds the Mayor.

Khoza says in some cases, while police put in the work, the justice system falls against them.

“In fact, we had a meeting this morning with the police station, itself. They say they experience challenges as a police station. (They say) there’s a shortage of manpower; there’s shortage of resources.”

Latest police statistics have revealed that Inanda and Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal have recorded the highest incidents of rape and abuse of women and children in the last reporting period.