Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana has called for stricter gun control measures in South Africa, saying that domestic violence is exacerbated by easy access to firearms.
Addressing the media in Pretoria on Tuesday on her department's efforts to combat gender-based violence, Xingwana said the country needed "a sustained and effective campaign against the availability of guns in our homes and streets. I don't see why if you already have a licence you must be given another licence for another gun.
"As women, we are saying if there is no gun in your home you are much more safer. If you have a gun in your home, the research has demonstrated that you are exposed three times more than someone who has no gun in their home to attack or murder through ... that gun."
Xingwana added that if there had not been a gun in Oscar Pistorius' home, Reeva Steenkamp would be alive today.
The minister said she was calling for firmer gun control measures in the country, as well as stricter monitoring of the law and monitoring of the distribution of guns.
Extending reach of 16 Days campaign
She also announced that the 25th of each month was to be used as a platform to ensure that the 16 Days campaign against gender-based violence took place throughout the year.
The day was declared the International Orange Day by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in a bid to ensuring that the campaign against violence against women and girls was observed on a monthly basis.
"The awareness is incorporated into our 365 days Action Plan Against Gender-Based Violence. Yesterday [Monday], we met in rural KwaZulu-Natal with women groups, government departments, NGOs, UN Women to mark the national launch of International Orange Day," Xingwana said.
Call for harsher sentences for abusers
She reiterated an earlier call for the courts to impose the heaviest possible sentence against perpetrators of women and child abuse.
Welcoming the re-establishment of sexual offences courts in the country, Xingwana said it would help in the speedy prosecution of gender-based violence.
"We also note the Minister of Health's announcement to recruit and train more forensic technicians to staff a fourth forensic laboratory - this will go a long way in processing vital evidence."
Xingwana said the recently launched National Council Against Gender Based Violence would meet four times a year to provide leadership, coordination and monitoring of gender-based violence initiatives in South Africa.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is the patron of the council, which is made up representative of government departments and agencies, NGOs and civil society organisations, as well as religious and traditional leaders and people with disabilities.
The council will use its collective strength to ensure that women and girls are able to fully realise their rights as citizens and to live in safe communities.