Time to stop the killings

The death of Uyinene Mrwetyana has hit home with many South Africans.
The death of Uyinene Mrwetyana has hit home with many South Africans.
Image: Facebook/Zuki Lamani

The words of Luyanda Botha describing how he lured, raped and killed UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in a Cape Town post office are nothing short of spine-chilling.

On Friday the Cape Town High Court sentenced Botha to three life terms and five years for defeating the ends of justice, after he pleaded guilty to savagely attacking the beautiful UCT student in August.

While it may not ease their grief, the Mrwetyana family and Uyinene’s friends can finally accept that justice has been served.

Uyinene’s murder sparked what appeared to be an unprecedented expression of outrage and activism against gender-based violence.

It thrust onto the global stage the brutal reality of being a woman in SA, one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

According to a 2018 Crime Against Women in South Africa Report by Statistics SA, a woman is murdered every three hours.

About 3,000 women were murdered last year — or one every three hours — which is more than five times higher than the global average, according to the World Health Organisation.

The frightening truth about these numbers is that, unlike Botha, too many perpetrators of these heinous crimes are never arrested and held accountable.

In some cases police incompetence is to blame.

In others, systemic failures which go beyond individual policing skills is the reason.

Either way, the result is a much bigger societal problem of the breakdown of trust between our criminal justice system and those it is meant to serve.

If we are to fight gender-based violence, these are the multiple crises that must be tackled.

Police must be trained with the necessarily skills, technical and interpersonal, to handle such cases when reported.

As a society we must also build legal communal systems that serve the interests of victims rather than shield violators from accountability.

This is the only way to fight this scourge and truly honour the memory of victims such as Uyinene.