Orange Farm residents have accused the local police of not doing enough to protect women and children. This comes after a three-year-old girl and two women were murdered in the area.

The little girl’s lifeless body was found in a basket tucked away in a burnt bush with multiple stab wounds on Thursday last week. They say gender-based violence (GBV) is rife in the south of Johannesburg township. Senior government officials visited the area to assess the situation.

Dozens of community members with placards with the words ‘STOP GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE’ gathered outside the home of the three-year-old girl who was found murdered with stab wounds in an open veld.

They were there to offer support and raise awareness against gender-based violence in the community. They say local police are doing nothing to protect women and children.

“Our police officers are not doing their work because the perpetrators are not brought to book. We are now scared for our children to walk in the streets. We have to always keep on holding their hands when we walk with them,” says a resident.

The family of the slain little girl says they are still struggling to come to terms with her murder. Family spokesperson, Anna Khoza, says they will remember her friendly and quiet demeanour.

“The incident is hurtful. It is very painful to lose a child who was never sick. Even now my wish is that I can see her. She was a well-behaved child,” says Khoza.

Deputy National Police Commissioner, Bonang Ngwenya, has appealed to the community of Orange Farm to help fight the scourge of gender-based violence.

“We are here today among others to do an analysis. We believe through an interaction with the community members, we will be in a position to understand what is it that is leading to an increase in gender-based violence cases in Orange Farm. But I want to reiterate and say we need each and everyone in the communities to stand up the time is now to act. If you are a leader in your family act now. If you’re a leader in your church act now,” says Ngwenya.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko has appealed to law enforcement agencies to swiftly arrest perpetrators who commit crimes against women and children.

“They are alarmist in all parts of Gauteng. They are not necessarily in Orange Farm. It is just that maybe it happens here. It happens close to one another. But if you realize it happens all over Gauteng. In Kangala a one-year-old. In Eersterus a 42-year-old. It’s Manelisi, Soshanguve. So it is sporadic incidences within Gauteng. So it is not necessarily Orange Farm. Unless those that are copy cats they then kill people from somewhere then come and dump them in Orange Farm as if these incidents are happening in Orange Farm,” says Mazibuko.

The suspect in the murder case of the three-year-old girl is yet to be arrested.

In this video, Minister Bheki Cele says police are working to arrest suspects involved in gender-based violence

Meanwhile, the Commission for Gender Equality has joined calls for the epidemic of gender-based violence to come to an end in South Africa.

Femicide and child murder incidents have been flaring up recently as the country continues with Level 3 of the coronavirus lockdown. Some of the incidents have been linked to the lifting of the ban on alcohol sales.

However, the Commissioner at the SA Commission of Gender Equality, Mbuyiselo Botha, says the issue starts with the narrative that exists about women and the possessive approach that men have towards women and children.

“We have to go to our mosques, we have to go to our temples, our traditional settings and we have to go to our churches. It has to be a new type of narrative throughout the world but we must shift from focusing on the girl child because girl children don’t rape themselves, don’t harass themselves, it is us, men, at an early age where these possession ideas are inculcated in us. We have to have a radical departure and a mindset shift,” says Botha.

On Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa identified gender-based violence as a pandemic which the country faces, along with COVID-19.