Lamola says community, criminal justice system must work as unit to fight GBV perpetrators

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Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola has urged residents to collaborate with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to ensure the successful prosecution of perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Lamola was speaking during an imbizo on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in Carolina, Mpumalanga, on Thursday.

Minister Lamola officially launched the Year of Community campaign aimed at encouraging citizens to value and uphold their rights as enshrined in the Constitution among others.

The rapid rise of Gender-Based Violence statistics is a cause of concern for government and activists alike.

Over 130 GBV desks have been established at police stations across the country, with more on the way. This is an attempt to combat the scourge of violence.

It is part of the department’s efforts to encourage citizens to value and uphold their rights as enshrined in the Constitution and promote public active participation in the implementation of justice services.

The launch was followed by an Imbizo focusing on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.

Addressing the residents, the Minister urged officials to expedite the arrest and prosecution of GBV perpetrators.

Sibonelo Gumbi bemoaned the pace at which GBV cases are dealt with. “The time allocation to be concluded is also a dominating factor in promoting gender-based violence within our communities. Because it takes longer for cases to be concluded and that end up discouraging people to open cases to make follow-ups to matters.”

“Because they see the last person who reported a case, the matter takes more than five years [to be concluded] sometimes victims end up dying,” explains Gumbi.

The National Prosecuting Authority Deputy Director of Prosecution, Josiah Ntuli says gender-based violence cases are being prioritised. He has pleaded with victims of gender-based violence not to withdraw cases.

“On behalf of the NPA, I want to report that since the NPA has started with six months priority cases project [we] were able to finalise a quite number of cases. Those cases were on roll as from last year April to March this year.”

“[We] were able to finalise over 40 murder cases which involved women and children. The matters not on the roll but have been reported to the NPA, are receiving our necessary attention. I want to make an undertaking on behalf of the NPA Mpumalanga division, that we would ensure that those matters are enrolled and those who have been arrested to have their day in court,” explains Ntuli.

Members of the community were also given a platform to vent their concerns.

Minister Lamola urged community members to work together with the police and the NPA to ensure that those who hurt and abuse others are arrested and prosecuted.

“It is something that, as we have said here, both the community and the criminal justice system must work as a unit. Except the one of Hillary [Gardee], the one you community members have described here in Gert Sibande. They happen between four walls – in your homes. They take place amongst people who are relatives, people who know each other very well. We need to ensure that we build loving communities and loving families so that we prevent GBV incidents from happening,” Minister Lamola explains.

Lamola hopes that the active participation of the public in the implementation of justice services will deter people from committing crimes.