Deputy President David Mabuza has called on South Africans to wear a black armband, a ribbon, or any sign that signifies an act of mourning in order to demonstrate solemn respect for those who have passed away due to Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) and COVID-19.
“We call on all families, communities and organisations to set up memorial corners where flowers, lit candles and any appropriate form of memorialisation is observed to remember and honour those who have lost their lives,” the Deputy President said.
He made these remarks on Wednesday during an event to mark the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence against Women and Children Campaign as well as the commencement of the five days of remembrance for the citizens who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
The South African National Flag was flown at half-mast to symbolize the beginning of the five Days of Remembrance for citizens who have lost their lives through GBVF and COVID-19.
The President has directed that from 25 November until 29 November, the nation should embark on five days of mourning, particularly for the victims of COVID-19 and those who have lost their lives through GBVF.
“During this period, the flag will be flown at half-mast, throughout the country from 6am – 6pm. We will do this not only as a sign of solidarity with all families who lost their loved ones but to demonstrate our resilience and collective determination to overcome COVID-19 and GBVF,” Mabuza said.
The Deputy President called on churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and houses of prayer to hold prayer sessions to support surviving families to cope with the loss of their loved ones.
“Our response to GBVF must be emphatic and uncompromising. It is our commitment as government, civil society formations and all other social partners to work together towards a sustained programme of action to curb GBVF.
“As part of this comprehensive programme, today marks the official commencement of our 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, which is hosted nationwide under the theme: Women’s Economic Justice for a Non-Violent and Non-Sexist South Africa,” the Deputy President said.
He encouraged society to collectively rally behind all national efforts and programmes to empower, protect and promote the advancement and development of women and girl children.
“Together we must build a society that places an enormous amount of its resources to the protection and development of women, to their well-being and their due recognition as leaders of our nation in all facets of human endeavors,” the Deputy President said.
Mabuza said the 16 Days of Activism campaign should be about concrete and tangible progress to end violence against women and children.
“It should never just be a simple and annual ritual in our calendar of events. In a democratic and a human rights centred country like ours, patriarchy cannot be used as a cultural basis for the oppression of women.
“Women can no longer live in servitude to men that have disregard for their lives and their freedom, therefore we call on all our communities to condemn any acts of GBVF and where such acts manifest themselves they should be reported to the nearest police station,” he said.
Mabuza said the reported rising number of COVID-19 infections remains a major cause for concern.
“We should continue to behave responsibly to save lives and avoid any possible resurgence of COVID-19 infections that may result in further loss of lives,” he said