(2 of 2 Newsletters for 16 February 2006)
A short while ago, the Cape High Court sentenced the accused in the Lorna Mlofana trial.
The first accused was sentenced to life in prison for murder. In addition, he will serve a concurrent ten year sentence for rape.
The second accused was sentenced to ten years in prison for assault. Three years are suspended, effectively giving her a seven year sentence.
TAC welcomes the High Court's decision. We are disappointed that it has taken over two years since Mlofana's murder on 13 December 2003 to conclude this trial. The state must give the criminal justice system more resources to combat violence against women.
Justice in this case was achieved because of the persistent activism from TAC's Western Cape staff, volunteers and members. TAC members attended over a dozen court appearances in the last two years. Many of these were postponed causing much frustration. TAC members also assisted the police and prosecutors in every way they could.
However, most women who experience violence in South Africa, as well as their families and loved ones, are let down by the criminal justice system. As long as it took to achieve justice for Lorna Mlofana's family, it takes much longer for most other cases of this nature. Many murders and rapes are never solved or investigated properly because of the criminal justice system's lack of resources.
We refer the media to our statement released earlier today on the unacceptable behaviour by supporters of Jacob Zuma towards the complainant at his rape trial in which we stated the following:
"In South Africa rape and sexual violence against women and girls are significant drivers of the HIV epidemic. Violence against women is a daily attack on the dignity and equality of women, and our social values. A demonstration that belittles this reality, and further reinforces women's exposure to violence, is a tragedy that demands immediate intervention from the police to ensure safety and to hold accountable those breaking the law .
The Treatment Action Campaign has a firm commitment to promoting gender equality, to ending domestic and sexual violence and to mobilizing men and women for gender justice.
We call on Jacob Zuma to insist that his supporters respect the rights of the complainant. We also call on the Friends of Jacob Zuma, and all organizations committed to his defence to respect the rights and dignity of the complainant in the case and of the judicial system in general. Given the extremely low conviction rates for violence against women, TAC also calls for the criminal justice system to be given the resources needed to address rape and other forms of violence against women. Lastly TAC urges all South Africans-men and women alike-to take a stand against domestic and sexual violence in our homes and in our communities."