Ms M Semenye (ANC) gave a brief summary on what had been presented to the first day of the Roundtable discussions. She outlined that the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr L Tsenoli, had explained why this Roundtable was important, summarised the objectives of Parliament and explained the theme of “Women Unite to take South Africa forward” that government had launched as part of Women's Month. He had further outlined the strides the public sector had made in empowering women, particularly enhancing their participation in National Government and Parliament. This had been followed by the Director General of the Department of Women in the Presidency, who explained how gender responsive budgeting should work through the National Development Plan, and how it would address services rendered to women. She also went through the 14 government outcomes and explained how these fed down to the departments' Annual Performance Plans. The Chief Whip of the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency had briefed the Roundtable on what Parliament should be doing to ensure gender mainstreaming and had presented and explained the content of a new guide. The Parliamentary Budget Office had noted how poverty and gender affected women in particular, explained some international trends, and noted growing gaps in wealth that were now based on gender. There was a need for an institutionalised response to budgeting. The differences between gender mainstreaming and gender-responsive budgeting were explained.
The Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Maggie Sotyu, outlined what was being done about gender based violence and explained the role of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and its officers in this regard, how they treated victims, what counselling was given, the relationships with the Department of Social Development on GBV cases, the trauma centres that were in police station, how women police officers should handle rape cases, and the attitude of police officers when it came to GBV case. She also outlined the process followed to recruit new police officers that looked at the personality and type of person, not only the qualifications. She noted that the environment made it difficult to get women in senior positions, and this was something that she was trying particularly to encourage for she believed that women, who had proven themselves well in the past, were quite capable of attending to the often difficult jobs. The Ministry also fully recognised the great benefit from building networks and worked closely with NGOs and community based organisations. One particularly important initiative had been the inter-Ministerial Committee that was established by the President at the end of last term, with the Department of Social Development, which had instructed the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research and others to conduct research into why crime in South Africa tended to be so violent. She noted the efforts made by former Minister of Women, Lulu Xingwana, and urged that regard be had to what had been achieved and found to work in the past as well as looking to the future, and said there was a need to find out what had happened to the Commission for Gender Based Violence. She urged, several times, that women should stand together and try to come up with a united programme that would work for the good of all.
Delegates asked a number of questions seeking clarity. Specific cases in the Western Cape, involving the rape of a disabled child, a murder in Khayelitsha, witness protection and attacks on lesbian women were questioned, with updates requested on the stage of the investigations. One speaker commented on the dire situation in Du Noon, which was without a police station, despite experiencing very high volumes of alcohol abuse that led to accidents on the N7 highway, rape, assaults and other crime, and the officers who were there did not understand the nuances of the community. Another speaker questioned why there were fewer officers in Grabouw than Caledon, despite higher crime rates. The Deputy Minister herself described the serious shortage of personnel in Nyanga and said that the right attitude was a very important factor. Members also asked what was being done in terms of counselling, pointed to instances where there had not been women police officers to take statements and deal with the victims of rape cases, noted that several police stations did not have trauma rooms. The Minister also reminded Members that there were instances where men needing to lay charges of assault by their female partners were not taken seriously, which then led to more serious crimes being committed.
Summary of previous day's presentations: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
Ms M Semenye (ANC) summarised the proceedings at the Roundtable discussions on the previous day. A key note address had been given by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Mr L Tsenoli, who explained why this meeting was important for Parliament, and set out the strategic objectives of Parliament. The group also received inputs from the Chairperson of the Multi Party Caucus, who made suggestions as to how the women of the country could unite, as they had in the past, to move forward. Mr Tsenoli reminded the meeting that this was the end of Women's Month, which had followed the theme that government launched, entitled “Women Unite to take South Africa forward”. He further explained the strides that the public sector had made in empowering women, particularly in terms of representation in National Government and Parliament.
Ms Semenye added that a presentation had been given by Ms Jenny Schreiner, Director-General of the Department of Women in the Presidency, who indicated that a gender responsive budget should look at the appropriations towards engendering, in pursuit of the National Development Plan (NDP) and gender responsive budgeting which should take into consideration the services that were rendered to women. Engendering the NDP was a constant reminder that there was a constitutional dispensation in South Africa that put gender equality and women’s empowerment very firmly as a principle in the Bill of Rights. Ms Schreiner had suggested that the right approach was to see that the strength of the 2030 development plan lay in putting on the agenda, very clearly, the need to address equality, poverty and unemployment. The NDP had been cascaded into the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and the 14 government outcomes, which feed into the strategic plans of government and then into departments' annual performance plans. The significance of monitoring and evaluating the impact of budget and services rendered was emphasised, as also the need to embrace regional coordination and partnership in line with the 2030 vision, as a platform for job creation. There was also a need to think about strategies and the impact of women migration.
Ms Semenye said that the presentations triggered questions and comments, but not all of them could be dealt with on that day, due to time constraints. The delegates who could not raise their questions should do so when they went to commissions.
Ms Semenye then summarised the next presentation, given by Ms P Bhengu (ANC), Chief Whip, Portfolio Committee on Women in Presidency, presenting the new manual on Mainstreaming; her presentation was entitled “Parliamentary tools for ensuring gender mainstreaming”. The key objectives of the manual were:
- To highlight the role of Members in promoting the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.
- To identify key legislation pertaining to women, children and persons with disabilities.
- To identify key international binding instruments pertaining to women, children and persons with disabilities and Members' roles in overseeing the implementation of these.
- To propose mechanisms for conducting effective oversight when taking into account issues pertaining to women, children and persons with disabilities.
- To articulate the importance of enhancing the public participation of women, children and persons with disabilities in legislative processes.
- To raise awareness on issues of co-operative governance as they pertained to women, children and persons with disabilities.
- To raise awareness about the internal structures and issues within legislature as they pertained to women, children and persons with disabilities.
It was very clear that this manual seemed to be an important resource for Members of Parliament, helping them to effectively fulfil their constitutional responsibility. The broader Women Roundtable, and particularly women MPs, should make use of this manual.
Ms Semenye said that the last presentation was from Prof M Jahed, Director of the Parliamentary Budget Office, whose theme was “Parliament and the Engendered Budget, Setting the Example”. The main focus was on gender responsive budgeting, which meant that throughout all planning, programming and budgeting processes, there had to be a focus on gender equality and efficiency. Both efficiency and equality were vital in these processes, specifically with a focus of ensuring that women’s rights were fulfilled. He cited examples from Australia, United Kingdom and Canada. He described the strengths and weaknesses of gender budgeting and analysis in South Africa to date. He also looked at the oversight role of Parliament and how Members must look at gender budgeting and responsiveness in the future. This was critical because a lot of the issues discussed earlier were around budgeting, and maybe a different perspective was necessary.
The presentations revealed a number of important issues. Poverty and gender were closely linked to women, in many developed and developing countries, and the gap was growing. Women were typically the poorest sector. When talking about inequality, it was stressed that this was no longer mostly apparent between white and black, but rather about men and women, and this was now referred to as income inequality. There was a growing gap in the major portion of the population made up of women. There is a need for an institutionalised response to budgeting and the government needed to decide how to create groupings and build capacity. There was a difference between gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming happened where everyone took cognisance of gender being mentioned in policies, whereas gender responsive budgeting was something totally different.
Ms Semenye said that presentation concluded that South Africa had amongst the most progressive policies. However, it was uncertain whether South Africa had really made substantial strides in improving women’s welfare and whether the programme was assisting them. There were not sufficient oversight mechanisms to track progress for advancing gender equality at a macro level and in different sectors.
Gender Based Violence: Deputy Minister of Police presentation
Ms Semenye then introduced Ms Maggie Sotyu, Deputy Minister of Police, to the delegates. Ms Sotyu would be speaking on gender based violence (GBV), which had become a big challenge for women throughout the country. She had been a Deputy Minister in the Fourth and now the Fifth Parliament, and should be congratulated for representing women in the Cabinet.
Ms Maggie Sotyu, thanked the Chairperson for the invitation and apologised that she had not been able to attend on the previous day, because she had been leading a delegation of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the issue of police killings that were happening around the country, which was one of the challenges currently faced. She introduced two senior police officers who had accompanied her. General Yvonne Motseneng was Head of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Special Offences Unit, and Colonel Selepe is also in the Gender Based Violence in the Department of Police.
Ms Sotyu noted that in the current environment, it was still very difficult to get women into senior positions. She was urging that the vacancies for senior position should be filled by women, because she knew they could do the job. The experience she gained in Parliament when she was the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security (then named) had convinced her that she could attend to policing. There was a challenge that a lot of the legislation being formulated was not easy to implement on the ground because the face of crime was changing every day. She said she was convinced that women in those senior positions would be able to tackle some of the challenges faced on the ground and make sure they assisted the Government in fighting crime.
The Deputy Minister said that she would like to highlight was that, during the Fourth Parliament, women's issues were led by the former Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana. There had been a lot of progress made over that time. She had noted that when new people took over they often did not look what had been done already but tended to start afresh, and this was not always a good thing. There had been many proposals from the meetings previously held which were convened by the former Minister Xingwana. She recalled that there was a time that all the departments and stakeholders were called under one roof, and asked to come up with one unique and entirely cross-cutting programme that would include everyone, rather than various departments running their own programmes. The country had managed to unite to prepare for the world soccer tournament, with Bafana Bafana t-shirts in evidence every Friday. She wondered why the country could not achieve the same unity on gender based violence? The numbers of children that were being raped, or brutally killed, often perpetrated by their own families, was getting out of hand. The number of older persons that were being raped by their sons and grand-sons was alarming. She urged that priorities should be set and all women should stand up as women to fight against women, children and older persons experiencing pain and suffering through their own families. She described this as a societal illness, and one where people were seemingly just doing whatever they wanted.
The Deputy Minister informed the delegates that at the end of the women’s month, the Department of Police would convene a network of women, composed of NGOs and everyone who wanted to work with the Department. There were programmes in all the provinces. She had been fortunate to be part of the programme in Queenstown, Eastern Cape, and had met a 90 year old who was raped by her grand-son. When she entered this woman's house she felt so sorry to see her age and frailness and to imagine the pain she was going through. The positive was that the grand-son had been convicted and was serving a life sentence. In another visit, she had met a 54 year old woman who had been raped by her own son. The trauma experienced by this woman was unbearable and although the police had counselled her several times, the Deputy Minister had organised social workers to come also and counsel her. These were the kinds of challenges the police officers were experiencing in their daily duties. In order to prepare and assist police officers to deal with such situations, SAPS had an Employee Health and Wellness Unit to counsel the officers. It was interesting to noted that she had discovered that this unit, however, had more men than women, and when she asked why, she was told that women preferred not to serve there because it was too painful and traumatising for them to see such cases.
The Deputy Minister said that there was an Inter-Ministerial Committee with the Minister of Social Development, which was established by the President at the end of the last term. At this, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other stakeholders were committed to coming up with the research to find out why was crime so violent, especially when it came to women and children. She cited the example of a car stopped at robots, where although the criminals targeting it actually wanted the car, they would kill the driver too. Robbers in a house would invariably take not only the goods but kill the occupants too, and if there were women, they would rape and then kill.
She also reminded those present that the Gender Based Violence Commission had been established by former Minister Xingwana, in the office of the then-Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. It was launched in the North West Province but she was not sure if it still existed. She hoped that having highlighted some of these issues, there could be more focus on them in order to move forward.
Ms Dorothea Gopie, Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) Western Cape asked what was being done in a particular case involving a disabled child who was raped in front of her boyfriend. The perpetrator had been identified and the request made that she be taken to a place of safety. She was both a witness and a victim. She asked to be assured that the best and safest place would be found, expressed the worry that many so called places of safety were not safe, and whether information could be provided to the ANC Women's League branch, who were now involved.
Ms Gopie asked what the reason was that the police station in Grabouw had less police officers and police vans than the Caledon police station, despite the fact that crime in Caledon was lower. During an oversight visit the Police Commander in Grabouw had said that it was not possible to set up a satellite police station because of a shortage of police officers.
Ms Gopie asked whom public representatives should contact if they became aware that a victimised person or family needed counselling, saying that she had battled with this issue in Phillipi.
Ms Gladys Oliphant, MPL Northern Cape, noted that some police stations had trauma rooms but others did not. Some police stations that had been built in the old apartheid style were still like that and operated in outdated ways, such as that in De Aar, where the station commander asked those reporting incidents to write down what happened so that they would then be referred to another station in the town.
Ms Oliphant asked why there were often no women police officers at the police station receptions, as often when rape victims came to lay charges they were seen by men, who had been known to laugh at them or treat them incorrectly. She also commented that only those who were well known seemed to be helped with speed at police stations.
Ms Ndumie Funda, Director: Luleki Sizwe Organisation said that more emphasis should be put on the role of civil society and suggested that the slogan “Think Human” should be coupled with “ubuntu”, because issues that affected women were being sidelined. There was a need to acknowledge and achieve close work with civil society and those on the ground. She noted that there was a case involving the murder of a lesbian in Phillipi, Western Cape, and another murder in Nyanga, on which no arrests had been made yet.
Ms Funda noted that she was a member of the national task team and the main negotiator driving the petition to set up a task team. A programme had been launched last year in April, in Johannesburg, forming part of the programme of action. She wanted to compliment government on having achieved some improvements, but said that it was not happening in her province, Western Cape. Perpetrators had been seen roaming around the streets of Gugulethu. She was happy that the Deputy Minister was here to represent SAPS. She too said that women were often ridiculed when they reported cases, but this was a very serious matter. There had been some cases where women had been stoned by the members of the community, with other women not standing up for them. The struggle of women did not start in 1956; it had been an everyday and ongoing struggle and it called for all women to stand together, not only government, but women like those who had marched in a united front in 1956.
Ms Funda said that she had read the report from the Deputy Minister, and it highlighted Gender Based Violence (GBV), and there should be no separation of anybody because of sexual preference or children. People should not be scared of reporting cases,; they needed to fight, and she was sure that women, having succeeded in the past, would succeed again.
Ms Meisie Makuwa, ANC Women’s League, said that she was from Du Noon, an informal settlement where children “were raped day and night”. Although there were some police in the area, there was no police station. It was an area with great influx of foreigners and many people from the Eastern Cape. Women and mothers were being raped and abused every day. Ms Makuwa requested that the National Government should come and help to assist in Du Noon, where there were huge problems. Managers of the police were whites, who did not understand the dynamics of the black community. In addition, children at the schools were involved in drugs, which were damaging in particular to young girls. There were many women there who had been widowed by their husbands being killed on the N7 highway. There was a lot of alcohol abuse. There was no help forthcoming and there was no office for social development in the area. Ms Makuwa requested the Deputy Minister to meet with MEC Dan Plato to try to set up a police station for the area because it was important for the protection of women and children.
The Deputy Minister said, with regard to the disabled victim who was raped, that for each and every specific case there was a specific investigator, who would decide, based on the nature of the matter, what needed to be done. If a person was taken to a safe house, especially if she was a witness, that information would not be revealed to anyone outside the family, because the precise reason for removing her from the community would be so that she could not be harassed. The family would need to know where she was, but the information was otherwise confidential and would not be divulged to anybody else. There had been a case where someone had been taken into the witness protection but prior to giving evidence, the information on his whereabouts had been revealed and he was killed. If there were difficulties in a witness giving evidence, there would be translators available.
Ms Sotyu agreed that the lack of police in Grabouw was a serious challenge. On the previous Friday, she had attended a cluster imbizo at Nyanga Police Station. In that police station the queue to the reception stretched right outside and there were pregnant women who sat on the floor. She had interacted with them, asking them how long they had been there. When she went to the counter to ask why people were waiting so long, the police officer wondered where he had seen her before, quite forgetting that her picture was on the wall behind him, until another police officer had come in, recognised and saluted her. This showed that sometimes attitude was a problem. However, in Nyanga she had discovered there were simply not enough police officers and this was not a problem of their own making. It was little surprise that this area of Nyanga was number one on murder statistics. She had asked the three officers present where the others were, and received the answer that there were no others; those three were trying to attend to the whole of crime prevention in a large community. She could understand the pressures and the overload of work for those officers and had decided that this should become a special project – even if it meant taking police officers away from opening gates in Parliament and deploying them to Nyanga.
In the Western Cape it was also discovered that in Milnerton and Rondebosch the police were “irresistably” comfortable in their jobs, with few queues and no stress. There was a need to engage with the province on how to distribute the resources, whether human or vehicles, for best results.
The Deputy Minister agreed that there were, countrywide, 1 138 police stations but only 802 have victim support rooms or trauma centres; these were generally not found in the older centres, for the newly built police stations did have trauma centres. A Commissioner was going round the provinces to identify police stations which needed trauma centres, led by the particular nature of crime in each area. They were also working with service providers to provide mobile units that could be used as trauma centres pending the building of a final trauma centre.
The Deputy Minister said again that sometimes it had been found, because the police were human, that attitudes were problematic and gave rise to things that were not supposed to happen. SAPS did acknowledge that situation. She suggested that Ms Oliphant should invite her to De Aar so that she could see what is happening in that police station. Again, she noted that sometimes the problems were not of the individuals' own making, but the SAPS overall did need to attend to the issues. Whenever new police stations were to be built, this should be in line with the national government to ensure that the priorities were being correctly fixed, and building did not follow the priorities of a provincial commissioner who may leave.
The Deputy Minister noted the issues of privacy when a women had to lay a charge and said that every Station Commander should make it his/her responsibility that no woman should be further traumatised at the police station after being traumatised by the incident that sent her to the station in the first place. A station commander must ensure that a woman was safe, even if it meant the victim should make her statement in the office of the Station Commander as the safest part of the building.
She was surprised to hear that at some police stations there were no women police offers who handled rape cases. By law, at each and every police station there should be a woman police officer – even if there was only one. It was understood that if a woman had been raped by a man, she should not have to lay a rape charge before other men who could not understand the pain she was going through. However, she also wanted to stress that there were also men who could be abused by women, and they had found that when they laid an abuse complaint, they were mocked by police officers, and that had resulted in some men killing the abusive woman. These were the kinds of issues that the ministry was trying to address within the SAPS, trying to teach all officers how best to handle cases. Again, she stressed that attitude was very important.
The Deputy Minister said that for the past three years ,recruitment to the police had been handled through filling out an application form, obtainable on the internet or at the nearest police station, and taking it through to the nearest police station, who would forward it to the provincial office. Those forms would be assessed, to see how many people qualified, and this office would also check that all the requirements in the application form were met and the driving licence was currently not an issue. Those who qualified were trained through the national Department. She noted that many more applications were received than there were vacancies – perhaps 200 000 applications for 2 000 trainees. Applicants were taken to a “grooming camp” where more would be found out about them as people. When they finished there, input would be sought from the community, who would ask what kind of a person this was. Finally, the successful applicants would be taken through to the training college. Anyone who failed to get through the grooming camp stage would be given feedback and could be looked at again in the next round of applications if they wanted to apply.
The Deputy Minister commented that she had not visited Du Noon, although she had visited Delft, which boasted a beautiful police station but very little real policing in the area. She commented that this could be added to the list of stations needed, and asked that the community bear with SAPS, as it was faced with many challenges.
General Yvonne Motseneng, SAPS said that the police were not working alone and in each and every police station there should be a list of all support services, and these lists should also be carried in each patrol vehicle. In every police station there should be a counselling facility for victims, and the officers had to refer the victims to Department of Social Development, so that SAPS and that department were working together on counselling. The two had also launched a command centre to deal GBV. Department of Social Development referred cases to SAPS if they needed further investigation, and if victims needed counselling, SAPS would refer to the social workers.
The Deputy Minister asked that Ms Funda should give SAPS the list of cases that she mentioned where there were no arrests made so that she could make a follow up on those cases.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for giving of her time to present to the Women’s Roundtable discussion and hoped what she presented would be able to take the issues of women forward. She also thanked the delegates that attended the discussions.
The Roundtable was adjourned.
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