President Ramaphosa, I write to you as a concerned citizen, woman and mother, to thank you for your reminder to gender-based violent abusers that “a woman is not your football!” Your strong words of disapproval of the rampant gender-based violence in our society should also be directed at the police who have, and continue, to fail thousands of women who are survivors of gender-based violence.
Take the case of Andisiwe Kawa against the police who botched the investigations of her abduction and rape nearly 13 years ago by a gang operating in the sand dunes of Qheberha. After nearly 13 years of struggle and the Eastern Cape High Court having eventually found in her favour in 2018 that the police were negligent, also confirmed in the April 2022 Constitutional Court Judgement in her favour, the case has yet to be settled. The promises of this year’s 16 Days Campaign against Gender Based Violence that the President re-iterated his commitment to fight this scourge, sound hollow given that Andisiwe Kawa has not yet received even the token settlement amount she has claimed to enable her to pick up the pieces of her shuttered life!
Mr President would you please remind the police that women’s emotions and dignity are not their footballs? Why can’t they rise above their self-centred concerns and settle this civil case to allow Andisiwe Kawa’s wounds to start healing? Mr President, the rampant violation of women’s rights and bodies, and their being subjected to re-traumatisation, will continue for as long as the government does not exercise consequence management to put a stop to the negligence and incompetence of law enforcement officers.
Minister Bheki Cele, is either ignorant of the law of the country or he is acting with impunity
in his reply June 2022 to a question by the EFF in Parliament, that he is not bound by the landmark Constitutional Court Judgement that strongly restated the duties of the State through the SAPS to protect women against the horrendous scourge of rape and gender based violence. How can Minister Cele rely on the minority judgement did not find the police negligent? Minister Cele has demonstrated a clear disregard and disrespect of the Constitutional Court, the apex court by stating that no remedial action is required because the minority judgement found accordingly. Mr President what are you going to do to reassure women that you are on their side in this fight against both abusers and abusive negligent police?
Andisiwe Kawa was a successful businesswoman with an MBA from Wharton Business School in the USA. On the 9th December 2010 after completing her visit to her mother in Qheberha, she decided to take a walk on the long inviting beach near the airport. She parked her car and let the sound and smell of the sea wash over her. That’s when the criminals pounced on her, dragged her into the bushes on the sand dunes and repeatedly raped her for days! She was saved from sure death by her wits. She was able to pacify her aggressive rapists.
She finally managed to trick them into escaping and alerting the in the nearby police station. She told the police that she had heard the sounds of helicopters overhead that were searching for her. Why was there no thought by the police of entering the obvious hiding place in the bushes on the sand dunes along the beachfront? The response of the police to her was tepid from the beginning. They did not show the empathy nor professionalism that could be expected of people dealing with someone who had just survived a near death experience. In addition, there was little attention paid to her dignity having been brutally violated over a number of days.
She eventually had to brief private lawyers to take up her case against police incompetence and gross negligence. She has been sent from pillar to post after the courts found in 2018 that the police had failed in their duty of care that could have led to the arrest of the criminals who no doubt had done these heinous acts under the nose of law enforcement.
Women such as Andisiwe Kawa who have continued to fight for their rights and redress for the incompetence of the police and other law enforcement officers are being let down across the country. There is little evidence of the police having both the inclination and capability to make gender-based violence expensive for perpetrators. Mr President your words need to also be backed by consequence management of the Minister of Police on whose watch crime and violence has escalated.
I am appealing to you Mr President to go beyond annual campaigns against gender-based violence and lead a national campaign to embed the values of Ubuntu in our broken society. Where is the civic education in our schools to educate our children about self-respect, respect for human dignity and the sanctity of the human body? Where is the values based training of police, teachers and all public servants to lead by example in serving the citizens of this country? How much investment are you as a leader in government making to put an end to the scourge of violent crime in our society by promoting the values of Ubuntu in our relationships as citizens?
Finally, Mr President, I urge you to take up this particular case of Andisiwe Kawa as a demonstration that your strong words are backed up by your determination to ensure that impunity in the police service is ended. There is no earthly reason why the police service cannot settle this matter during these 16 days of GBV Campaign as a symbol of their commitment to turn a new leaf and become the effective sensitive police service citizens are yearning for.