THE military launched its 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children awareness campaign during an armed forces parade at the Donkin Reserve in Central yesterday.
The campaign saw all military branches, including the army, air force and navy, participate in the march, which was also attended by police top brass.
The national theme of the 2015 campaign is “Count Me In Together, Moving A Non-Violent South Africa Forward”.
Guest speaker, the Salvation Army’s Major Margaret Stafford, addressed more than 100 military personnel, calling them – and all law enforcement agencies – the gatekeepers of society.
“We rely on you to keep us safe and to guide the community. Each day we are hearing more about attacks and brutal killings. We depend on our gatekeepers to watch over us and protect the society in which we live,” she said.
Stafford mentioned the recent terrorist attacks in France and Mali, saying this was the reality of the world we lived in.
“There are 49 murders a day in South Africa and unfortunately it is seen as the norm. It should not be the norm. We need you and other gatekeepers to stand up,” she said.
“The sexual offence figures might be down, but we know that only one in every 13 rapes is reported to police.”
The breaking of an international child porn ring which saw the arrest of a Plettenberg Bay man was also highlighted in her speech.
Eastern Cape Military Health Services commander Colonel Phindile Phike said the campaign included World Aids Day and Universal Children’s Day.
“This campaign aims to raise awareness about the negative impact of violence against women and children as well as all members of the community,” he said.
All physical violence and violent crimes should be reported and not tolerated.
“We soldiers should set an example for the community in which we live.”
Military spokesman Captain Cedric Paulse said the event was the launch of a campaign that would see other awareness events rolled out.
Provincial police commander Brigadier Marinda Mills said the police were aiming to make this a 365-day-a-year campaign.
“We do have additional events during the designated period and this year our first big event will take place in Bityi on Thursday.
“This is to campaign for the protection of survivors of violence and call for the elimination of crimes against vulnerable groups, which include women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly.”
Various operations will be held during the campaign, including raiding suspects, visiting crime hotspot areas and conducting door-to-door visits to raise awareness.