Amid a wave of violent abductions, rapes and murders of numerous women in South Africa, hundreds have marched to the Parliament buildings in Cape Town to protest against the continued violence against women and children. These protests come after yesterday’sinitial protests at the World Economic Forum(WEF) which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Center (ICC). Several protesters including comedian and actor,Siv Ngesi, were arrested by police.
Hundreds of students and staff from the University of Cape Town, along with members of the public, have gathered outside the Parliament buildings to hand over a memorandum of demands to PresidentCyril Ramaphosa.News24, which has been on the ground since the protests began this morning,reportsthat upon Ramaphosa’s arrival at the protest, the crowd was asked to sing the national anthem and subsequently refused.
South Africans have expressed their anger at Ramaphosa’s initial silence over both the surge in violence against women andxenophobic attacksplaguing the country. Many have signed a petition calling for thereturn of the death penaltyof those who rape and murder women while others have demanded that thenational sex offenders registry, which is not accessible to the public save for potential employers, be made public.
Addressing the protesters briefly, Ramaphosa said that, “We are drawing a line in the sand…Men who rape women, men who kill women must stay in jail for life. [T]hey do not belong in society.” However, his words bring very little hope or reassurance to the many South African women and children who have been continuously failed by a justice system that victimizes them even further after attempting to report incidents of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. A few days ago, the South African governmentreceived heavy criticism and condemnationfor tweeting that women should “not allow themselves to become victims.”
BusinessLivereportsthat Ramaphosa, who was supposed to be participating in a panel discussion at the WEF with UN Deputy Secretary-General,Amina Mohammed, left the proceedings to go and address the protesters. He has since returned and it is unclear when he will respond to the demands of the protesters.
Police are currently preventing the crowd from marching to the WEF and staging a sit-in at the ICC as they did yesterday.