WARNING: This story may offend some readers.

The gender-based violence scourge has reared its ugly head again in South Africa. A man has been arrested for the alleged rape and murder of a pregnant woman in Hlobane, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Zilandile Xulu, who was seven months pregnant at the time, disappeared on 27 June and her body was discovered three days later.

Provincial Police Spokesperson Nqobile Gwala says initial investigations indicate that Xulu was killed in her bedroom before being thrown off a cliff.

“On the 30th of June, the body of Zilandile Xulu 34 years was found on the cliff after she disappeared from her home on the 27th of June and the deceased was found strangled to death and also raped and stabbed. A charge of murder was then opened for investigation at Hlobani police station and the police investigations revealed that the deceased was killed in her bedroom and dragged out of her home and thrown down the cliff. She was seven months pregnant when she was killed. Her body was discovered with the visible broken neck and several stab wounds to the stomach.”
‘Loopholes in justice system adding to the GBV scourge’

A North West psycho-social expert says the country is faced with a mammoth task of dealing with the increase in gender-based violence.

In the video below, victims of gender-based violence say they fear victimisation:

Professor Hayley Walker-Williams says loopholes in the justice system are also adding to the scourge. The North West University scholar says victims of GBV who continue to receive threatening communication from perpetrators behind bars are not only left terrified, but they may also end up withdrawing charges.

“There are lots of loopholes in the justice system that is why gender-based violence is so under reported in South Africa because these women live in fear. So they fear their safety, they fear stigmatisation and they fear not being protected by the justice system. These women still living in fear because the threat is not extinguished so even though these perpetrators are incarcerated. They continue to threaten the women, threaten their personal safety, their livelihoods, their families and they often do this to get the women to withdraw the charges,” Professor Walker-Williams said.

In the video below, a victim of GBV shares her experience:

South Africa has seen a surge in GBV cases since the country went under level 3 lockdown. While acknowledging strides made in bid to stem the scourge, civil society has called for more. Amnesty International South Africa has also urged South Africans to end silence around the scourge.

The organisation has also reiterated its call for government to increase its efforts in ensuring that the rights of women and girls are protected and upheld. It also wants violations of these rights documented and dealt with in a timely manner by the justice system.