Women who have survived sex trafficking, rape, abuse, and violence recounted the horrors they suffered on Thursday at the gender summit attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom they asked to tighten laws against perpetrators.
“Our lives can’t be paroled Mr President, the minimum sentence for sex offenders must be at least 50 years,” said Phindi Ncube.
Ncube said she was brutally raped by eight men. As a result of the attack, she had to undergo five surgeries on her stomach. Ncube said her attackers were released after serving only four years.
In a shocking move, Ncube who was speaking from the podium unexpectedly raised her black dress to show the scars of her ordeal – though she was wearing nothing underneath.
Facing the president she said: “I was not born like this, this came as a result of my attackers, I have to carry the scars while they walk free.”
More than 1,000 delegates have gathered in Irene, Pretoria, to tackle the scourge of violence against South Africa’s women and girls.
The two-day summit is convened by the president following a series of marches against gender-based violence by formations such as 100 Men March and #TotalShutdown.
Another survivor identifying only as Sarah, who is now confined to a wheelchair, also said she “wasn’t born like this”.
“I got stabbed by my boyfriend while I was sleeping, he also stabbed my child 14 times and left us to die and disappeared,” said Sarah.
She said the offender was sentenced to 20 years, but only served five years. He will be released on parole on January 10 2019. Sarah lamented how she wrote a letter to authorities for the parole to be reviewed and did not get a response.
“We are being ill-treated, we are not given justice, the sentence was done while I was dying in hospital and it was not fair for me, today I am struggling, Mr President, please do something about this because doors are closed for us, we are dying, we are crying, but nothing is being done for us,” she said, fighting back tears.
Delegates also demanded the release of Martha Marumo. She has been serving a life sentence since 2005 for killing her abusive husband.
African News Agency (ANA) / The Citizen