Cyril Ramaphosa welcomes three life sentences handed down to Uyinene Mrwetyana's killer

18 November 2019 - 10:25 By ERNEST MABUZA
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the three life sentences handed down to Luyanda Botha, who raped and killed UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, were befitting of the heinous crime.

Botha was convicted and sentenced in the Cape Town high court on Friday.

“The life sentences serve the cause of justice and must act as a deterrent to men who rape and kill the women of our country,” Ramaphosa said in his newsletter on Monday.

He said government remained firm in its resolve that a life sentence should mean life.

“Those who commit crimes against women and children must know that they will be caught and tried, and that our courts will act firmly against those found guilty.”

Ramaphosa said the violence perpetrated by men against women remained a national crisis that required action by all to urgently end it.

He said the emergency action plan to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence, which he announced at a special joint sitting of parliament in October, was being implemented, with R1.6bn being reprioritised by the responsible departments.

“The plan focuses on improving access to justice for survivors of violence and prevention campaigns to change attitudes and behaviour.

“It involves measures to strengthen the criminal justice process and to prioritise the creation of economic opportunities for women who are vulnerable to abuse.”

Ramaphosa has asked for weekly reports on the implementation of the plan.

He said government was on track to achieve its target of establishing 11 more sexual offences courts by the end of the financial year.

“To protect the rights and dignity of child survivors and mentally disabled survivors, CCTV systems have been upgraded at 38 regional courts.

He said clearing case backlogs was a priority.

“The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is implementing a 100-day rapid results approach to speed up case turnaround times.

“Courts with significant backlogs in the North West, Eastern Cape and Limpopo have been identified for rollout.”

He said national and provincial 24-hour call centres to deal with complaints against police, prosecutors and magistrates on gender-based violence and femicide cases were now up and functioning.

Police had allocated 312 new recruits, now undergoing basic training, to the family violence, child protection and sexual offences units.

“To date, 7,000 rape evidence collection kits have been distributed to police stations across the country.

“A project to reopen unresolved murder and sexual offences cases [so-called cold cases] will soon be operational. It has already begun in the Eastern Cape.”

Ramaphosa said government employees working with children and mentally disabled people were being vetted against the National Register of Sex Offenders.

“To date, 1,222 officials have been vetted, including prosecutors and members of the [police].”

Ramaphosa said legislative reform was under way to tighten conditions around bail and sentencing for perpetrators of gender-based violence, as well as provisions that extended  the protection afforded to women and children.