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Violence: Proudly South African

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Watching TV the other night I was horrified to see groups of South African men marching through townships in South Africa brandishing weapons of all descriptions from hammers through to axes, baying for the blood of foreigners living in South Africa. Equally horrifying were the images of members of the South African police force standing back nonchalantly watching victims writhe on the ground in pain from their assault.

These xenophobic attacks are appalling and unacceptable as are the daily high levels of violence that South African women experience in “the rainbow nation”.

Amnesty International, in their 2008 report on the state of the world’s human rights stated the following on South Africa:

High levels of sexual and other forms of violence against women continued to be reported.

According to police statistics, reported incidents of rape had decreased by 4.2 per cent over the previous six years. However, between April 2006 and March 2007, 52,617 rapes were reported. There were also 9,327 reported cases of “indecent assault” – including anal rape and other types of sexual assault which did not then fall within the definition of rape. In December new crime statistics for the period April to September 2007 included 22,887 reported rapes.

Police officials reported to Parliament that between July 2006 and June 2007, police recorded 88,784 incidents of “domestic violence” in terms of the 1998 Domestic Violence Act (DVA). The Department of Justice reported that over 63,000 protection orders were issued by the courts between April 2006 and March 2007. However, the ICD reported in November that of 245 police stations audited in 2006, only 23 per cent were compliant with their obligations under the DVA, ranging from none in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces to all of those audited in the Western Cape.

Women experiencing violence and service-providing organizations told Amnesty International that while some police facilitated women’s access to protection orders, others referred complainants back to their families, or failed to seize dangerous weapons, or refused to take any steps unless the complainant laid criminal charges first.

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