News 24 is reporting the police investigation into the murder of Tshegofatso Pule, who was 8-months pregnant with her first child at the time of the murder, has intensified. Pule, 28, was found dead last week, hanging from a tree and with multiple stab wounds. Witnesses say she was last seen leaving her boyfriend’s housing complex and getting into a grey Jeep before being found murdered a day later. Pule’s best friend says Pule said she wanted to come home and was leaving to go buy baby clothes, a story confirmed by Pule’s Uncle Tumisang Katake.
The victim’s best friend reportedly called the police and reported Pule missing. Pule’s best friend and family are now under police protection due to a series of threats received over the phone.
Police have confiscated the grey Jeep Pule was riding in although as of this story, no arrests have been made in her murder.
The BBC is reporting South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa says it has been a “dark and shameful week” for South Africa following a surge in violence against women.
At a press conference Ramaphosa condemned violence against women
Mr. Ramaphosa condemned the brutality of recent killings, naming three of the victims including Tshegofatso Pule and Naledi Phangindawo, 25, who was stabbed to death in the harbor city of Mossel Bay. Phangindawo’s alleged killer, who is her boyfriend, is currently in police custody. The body of Sanele Mfaba was found under a tree in Soweto June 13. Calls for justice have also come for Sanele who was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend Tshepo Mashego, who has been taken into custody.
President Ramaphosa remarked that justice must be served and called for gender-based violence (femicide) to be investigated urgently so that justice can be served.
Twitter campaigns have erupted over the recent murders of the young women sparking the following hashtags: #JusticeForTshego #JusticeforNaledi and #JusticeforSanelisiwe.
In September of 2019, President Ramaphosa announced a plan of action to curb gender-based violence, including a proposal to make a register of offenders public. Activists have called for reinstatement of the death penalty for those who commit such crimes.
According to an article in The Guardian, Ramaphosa stated, “We are reviewing laws on domestic violence and sexual offenses to prioritize the needs and interests of survivors.” The president also stated, “We are going to overhaul and modernize the national register of gender-based violence offenders provided for in the sexual offenses act to ensure it is effective in combating gender-based violence.” Watch Ramaphosa’s speech below:
The recent rise of murders against South African women has been blamed on the ease of restrictions around COVID-19.
Kim Harrisberg of Thompson Reuters Foundation News reports, “Women’s rights campaigners welcomed the greater focus on violence against women but said this was not just due to the end of lockdown but a constant issue for women in South Africa who face high rates of domestic abuse.”
The World Health Organization reports the rate of South Africa women murdered by intimate partners is five times more than the global average.