The Free State Premier, Sisi Mtombela, says just this week six Free State women have died as a result of violent attacks.
This as the country remains shaken by the deaths of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was raped and murdered during a visit to the Post Office, as well as promising female boxer Leighandre Jegels, who was shot and killed by her boyfriend.
This morning the words “Our Father who art in heaven” could be heard throughout Bophelo House, the headquarters of the Free State Department of Health, as Ntombela led a prayer session in protest against gender based violence.
Officials at the Department of Health wore black in solidarity with nationwide protests against the scourge of violent attacks on women and children.
“In the past women were expected to be quiet and accept their lot in life but even then we did not have such instances of violence against females. People had faith and prayed in those days but today we have failed to pass that on to our children,” said Ntombela.
MEC of Health Montseng Tsiu expressed concern over cases of rape and violence that officials and medical staff come across. “It is an emotional day for us women as well as the men who care about our welfare because of the horrific things that happen to women. The worst of these are happening to women in the poorest of circumstances,” she said.
Tsiu and Ntombela visited a few victims and their families throughout the Free State this week. These included a victim of attempted rape last week who barely survived the attack after she was stabbed multiple times, as well as the family of a four-year-old girl who was allegedly raped and killed by a male nurse.
Ntombela also mentioned five other women and girls who have died violently in recent months in gender based attacks, some of whom had been reported missing long before their bodies were found and identified. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele