Editorial: Even police stations are unsafe for women

On Monday a man walked into a police station in Mthatha. He shot and killed his wife. 

Let that sink in. 

Police reports say that Yandisa Daniso, who has appeared in court, followed his wife to the police station, where she had gone to lay a domestic violence charge against him, and shot her. 

He fired five to six shots inside the police station, according to eyewitnesses. 

Still in the early hours of Monday, Orlando Pirates midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch was arrested and appeared in court on charges of assault with the intent to cause bodily harm to his girlfriend. 

Three days earlier, on Friday, a 17-year-old girl from the Eastern Cape was raped by 11 men while walking home after having visited a friend. This brutal incident happened on the same day as President Cyril Ramaphosa — in his capacity as the ANC president — was part of the party’s men’s dialogue on ways to deal with and eliminate of gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide in this country. 

The virtual dialogue went on for hours as men talked, talked and talked about how to deal with the violence millions of women are subjected to every day in South Africa at the hands of men. 

There have been similar dialogues, talks and speeches by leaders — and Ramaphosa himself — about GBV, but none of that has resulted in any concrete thing that makes women feel safe in this country.  

If a man has the temerity to shoot a woman inside a police station, in front of law enforcement officers, then the country has an even bigger GBV problem than it thinks. 

It also speaks volumes about how little effect the laws of this land, or the police themselves, have had in protecting women against men who abuse and kill them daily. 

Daniso did not think twice before going inside a police station and killing his wife, because there are few to no consequences for GBV in this country. There is only the sloganeering of politicians, the endless empty promises about strengthening the courts and training police officers to deal with violent crimes, topped off with the favourite line: “We condemn this in the strongest form.”

But ask any woman in this country, today, if she feels safe after the president or a minister has said, “I condemn violence against women,” and the answer will be, “No, of course not.” 

Every day, women in this country are at the mercy of men who are violent against them, but there is no effort to end this scourge. 

The women of South Africa are on their own if they are not safe even inside police stations. 

When will it end? 

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