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Keynote Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at the launch of the Bredasdorp Sexual Offences Court, 7 February 2020

Programme Director, Cllr Marthinus,
Acting Regional Court President, Dr Lekhuleni,
Deputy Mayor, Cllr Tonizi, and other councillors present,
Reverend Botha,
Magistrate Van Harte and members of the magistracy,
The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS, Lt-Gen Matakata,
The Provincial Commissioner of Correctional Services, Commissioner Klaas,
The Acting Deputy Director-General: Court Services of the DOJCD, Mr Malema
The Head of the Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups of the DoJCD, Adv Kambula,
The Acting Regional Head of the DoJCD in the Western Cape, Mr Isaacs,
Representatives from the National Prosecuting Authority, Legal Aid SA and various government departments,
Representatives from various Chapter 9 institutions,
Community leaders and residents of Bredasdorp,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning, molweni, goeie môre en baie dankie vir die geleentheid om die hof vir seksuele misdrywe hier te kan loods en om die gemeenskap van Bredasdorp te kan ontmoet.

Dames en Here,

Suid-Afrika het een van die hoogste syfers van geweld teen vrouens en kinders.  Daar word ongeveer elke drie ure ‘n vrou iewers in ons land vermoor en een uit vyf vroue in ons land was al slagoffers van geslagsgeweld.

Almal van ons wat vanoggend hier is weet van die hartseer wat die families en die mense van Bredasdorp deurgemaak het met die dood van, onder andere, persone soos Anene Booysen, Kayde Williams, Elna Jaftha, Sulnita Manho, Xolelwa Vuma, Jodine Pieters en nou weer onlangs met die dood van Delvina Europa.

We cannot bring those women and children back, but we can ensure that there is justice for them and for their families. 

When we bring these cases to court, we need to prevent secondary traumatisation and ensure that survivors of sexual offences receive the necessary support services that are available to them.

Ons moet dit makliker maak vir slagoffers van geslagsgeweld en seksuele misdrywe om sake aan te meld en om te verseker dat hulle behoorlike ondersteuning kry wanneer die sake voor die hof kom.

Dis daarom belangrik om seker te maak dat slagoffers van geweld nie nog verder getraumatiseer word tydens die aanmeldingsproses by die polisie of die vervolgingsproses deur die aanklaers of tydens die hofproses, deur regsverteenwoordigers, nie.

Since August 2013, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has been progressively establishing new sexual offences courts every year, which, in a nutshell, means taking an ordinary Regional Court and designating these courts to hear sexual offences matters in a victim-centric and victim-friendly manner. 

Sexual Offences Courts offer a number of victim-support services, which include, amongst others, court preparation services and intermediaries who convey questions and statements received from the court to the victim in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner.

They currently appear in cases involving child witnesses and witnesses with mental disabilities.

We make use of in-camera testifying services for children, persons with mental disabilities, and all traumatised victims, irrespective of age.

These witnesses testify in a private testifying room and out of the physical presence of the accused and other people via a CCTV system.

The infrastructural requirements include the establishment of testifying rooms, child and adult waiting areas separate from the accused’s waiting areas – this is aimed at setting the victims at ease whilst awaiting their turn in court. 

Maar wat maak ‘n hof vir seksuele misdrywe anders as ‘n “gewone” hof?

Die doel van hierdie spesiale fasiliteite en persone wat bystand verleen, is om te voorkom dat die slagoffer van ‘n seksuele misdryf in direkte kontak kom met die beskuldigde by die hof, omdat dit die slagoffer verder sal traumatiseer.  

Dit voorkom ook dat slagoffers gedreig of geïntimideer word.

These facilities are aimed at preventing victims of sexual offences from coming into contact with accused or their supporters as this often induces trauma and affects the ease with which the victim becomes a strong witness in the court process. 

In addition to these resources, the dual CCTV System is installed in the Sexual Offences Courts between the courtroom and the testifying room to enable child victims to provide evidence without fear or being traumatised from being in the same room with the accused. 

This reduces secondary victimisation and as a result victims are stronger witnesses, therefore preventing attrition rates.

Our Department is also responsible for the provision of intermediary services to child witnesses in court.  There are Court Intermediaries whose functions are to assist child victims to relay evidence in a child friendly manner.         

With the recent signing of the Presidential Summit Declaration against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide by the President and the civil society, government has taken a very strong stance against this scourge.

We need to combat and prevent GBVF at individual, family, community and societal levels.

Ongeveer 2 700 vrouens en 1 000 kinders is in 2018 in Suid-Afrika vermoor, en meestal deur mense wat hulle geken het.  Ons moet hierdie misdade kragdadig aanspreek op individuele, familie, gemeenskap en samelewings-vlak.

U sou waarskynlik gesien het dat President Ramaphosa in September verlede jaar aangekondig het dat die regering alles in die stryd werp om geslagsgeweld te bekamp.  Om dit te doen, is ‘n nasionale strategiese plan teen geweld op vrouens en kinders deur die President aangekondig.

One of the Pillars of the Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) is changing norms and behaviour from the family unit to ensure that respect for women and girls is inculcated from the roots of each family and that patriarchy and its GBVF-related ramifications are completely uprooted.

Op die oomblik is daar ‘n totaal van 94 van hierdie tipe howe, wat spesifiek ingestel word vir die beregting van seksuele misdrywe, regoor die land.   Hierdie howe is almal op streekhof-vlak.  

‘n Verdere 10 streekshowe word tans opgradeer en sal teen die einde van die huidige boekjaar, dit wil se teen einde Maart 2020, voltooi word.

A further important step in strengthening the fight against sexual violence is the recent commencement of the Judicial Matters Second Amendment Act which provides for the establishment of courts dedicated to matters related to sexual offences.

The new legislation provides for the courts to have certain facilities and measures in place to render services that would better protect complainants, enhance the quality of prosecutions and evidence to be given in sexual offence cases and minimise secondary trauma for complainants.

I am also pleased to advise that the new Regulations relating to Sexual Offences Courts have been published today.

As ons kyk na die misdaadsyfers van hierdie area in besonder, sien ons daar was 7 moorde in Bredasdorp in 2017/18 teenoor 6 in 2018/19.

Daar was 37 gevalle van seksuele misdrywe in 2018/19, teenoor 41 die vorige jaar.  Ten spyte van die feit dat die aantal seksuele misdrywe besig is om af te neem, is die syfers steeds kommerwekkend hoog. 

As ‘n mens die seksuele misdrywe verder ontleed, sien ons daar is 25 gevalle van verkragting aangemeld, teenoor 20 die vorige jaar. 

Wat egter ook kommerwekkend is, is die feit dat poging tot moord gestyg het met 120% - van 10 gevalle in 2017/18, teenoor 22 in 2018/19.

Roof met verswarende omstandighede het ook toegeneem, van 27 gevalle in 2017/18 na 35 in 2018/19, met ander woorde ‘n styging van bykans 29%.

Ons moet onsself afvra hoekom vlakke van geweld en misdaad teen vrouens en kinders so hoog is in Bredasdorp.

In the Elna Jaftha case, when the Western Cape High Court was busy with the sentencing proceedings of Gift Sibondo who had been found guilty of the rape, kidnapping and murder of the teenager, the Court was informed that violent assault by a partner is considered "the norm" in many Bredasdorp families. This is largely due to alcohol abuse.

The investigating officer informed the High Court, in particular, that in his 27 years as a police officer and 17 years as a detective, the common denominators in the cases were always alcohol abuse and poverty.

He stated that financial dependence on an attacker made it worse because a woman would lay a charge, an attacker would then be arrested, but the case would later be withdrawn when they realise they would lose their financial support if their attacker went to jail. This fear of losing support meant that many attackers go unpunished.

Ons weet gesinsgeweld vind plaas in alle gemeenskappe – ook hier in Bredasdorp.  

Ons is baie bewus daarvan dat sommige vrouens finansieel afhanklik is van hul eggenoot, vaders, mans met wie hulle in verhoudings is en van ander familielede en dat dit hulle blootstel aan gesinsgeweld, verkragting en selfs moord.

We are painfully aware of some women’s financial dependency on husbands, fathers, partners and family members, which has increased your vulnerability to living with domestic violence, rape, incest, abuse and murder.

Dit is waarom baie slagoffers onwillig is om teen die persoon wat hulle misbruik of aanrand op te tree. 

Selfs nadat klagtes by die polisie aanhangig gemaak is, gaan baie terug om die aanklagte terug te trek. 

Baie kere is dit omdat die vrou of kind so emosioneel, geestelik en fisiek afgetakel is dat hulle nie weet wat om te doen nie of waar om hulp te kry nie. 

Hulle bly dikwels in die verhouding waar hulle misbruik word in die hoop dat die situasie sal verbeter - soos die misbruiker hulle gewoonlik belowe - maar dit stel hulle net meer bloot aan erger gevolge.  

Ons is bewus daarvan dat baie vrouens bang is om vir hulp aan te klop omdat dit die risiko van verdere geweldadige aanvalle mag vermeerder.

Maar, dames en here, daar is goeie wette en prosesse om mense teen gesinsgeweld te beskerm.  Vrouens kan byvoorbeeld vra vir teistering en beskermings beperkende bevele, (called harassment and protection/ restraining orders in English).

Hulle kan ook klagtes lê van, onder andere, aanranding, gesinsgeweld, verkragting en dies meer. 

Victims of gender-based violence can call the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre toll-free on 0800 428 428 for assistance. 

They can also contact the Command Centre by way of a “please call me” at *120*7867# with a request that a social worker contact them or they can sms the word “help” to 31531. They can also call institutions such Life Line, toll-free, on 0800 150 150 or 0861 322 322.

Toe ons die reëlings vir vandag se byeenkoms getref het, het ek spesifiek gevra dat soveel as moontlik gemeenskapsleiers, raadslede – van alle politieke partye – en lede van die gemeenskap betrek word.  Ek het dit gedoen omdat misdaad  almal hier in Bredasdorp raak  – of jy nou Bruin, Swart of Wit is; Afrikaans, Engels of isiXhosa; en of jy ‘n man of ‘n vrou is.

Ons moet almal hande vat en saamwerk om misdaad, gesinsgeweld en geslagsgeweld hier in Bredasdorp te voorkom en aan te spreek.

Ons maak staat op u almal se hulp. U is baie keer die oë en ore van die gemeenskap om inligting aan die polisie te verskaf.

U sal onthou dat in die geval van Elna Jaftha was dit die bure wat die polisie gebel het. 

And in the case of Delvina many concerned members of the community joined in the search to look for her.

Bredasdorp is a close-knit community and we all know the saying “your child is my child”.

Ons moet gevolglik luister en omgee en kyk na die vrouens en kinders in ons gemeenskap. Dit is ons ma’s, ons dogters en ons kinders. 

Elke enkele geval van geweld teen vrouens en kinders is “een te veel”.  Dit is omdat geweld sulke verrykende gevolge het – van daaglikse vrees vir jou lewe tot langtermyntrauma. 

Dit is dus ons gesamentlike verantwoordelikheid om te doen wat ons kan om hierdie situasie te verander.  Te veel vrouens en kinders ly in stilte.

Ek hoop derhalwe dat hierdie hof wat ons vandag hier loods, ‘n verdere maatreël sal wees om ons vrouens en kinders te help. 

Ek vertrou dat geregtigheid sal seëvier in hierdie hof.  Onthou geweld is nooit in orde nie en dis nooit ‘n oplossing nie. 

Elke mens verdien om veilig te voel.  Kom ons vat hande, want saam kan ons ‘n verskil maak.

Baie dankie, enkosi, thank you.