Yesterday, 25 February 2013 Standerton community members marched to the local Magistrates Court to hand over a memorandum of concerns to Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe with regards to the increasing number of rape and murder cases reported in the area.
The group of marchers consisted of the Standerton Community Police Forum, religious groups, children, women and the community in general.
Speaking on behalf of the community, chairperson of Standerton Community Police Forum David Maretlane, who also represented men for change, said that rape and murder suspects should not be granted bail until their trial is concluded and when convicted they should be given a harshly sentences to send a message to other would be wrong doers.
Maretlane said that the Standerton community was fed up with the increasing number of rape and killing of women and children, and further made reference to the recent brutal killing of a young girl whose mother was also part of the march.
"Each and every man must from today take it upon himself to protect our women and children while we fight against these "beasts" that are destroying our communities," said Maretlane.
In the memorandum, the community pleaded to the Department of Justice to review its laws to ensure that rape and murder suspects are not granted bail as this leads to communities losing faith in the police because suspects are seen roaming around the street days after they have been arrested.
They also pleaded to Government to amongst others give harsher sentences for sexual related offences, for government to provide protection to the victims of sexual harassment, for government to capacitate the human resources in investigating sexual offences and for government to fund all designated centres for victims of abuse. Responding to the group of marchers MEC Shongwe said that the escalating rape and murder cases are being taken serious and priorotised by government.
"The police are working hard to put suspects behind bars, but I also want to encourage victims and witnesses to always avail themselves to testify against these suspects so that they can be convicted. It is only through your testimonies and support to one another that we may end this scourge of crime," added the MEC.
Speaking in the same gathering, Standerton Court Manager Mr Sphephelo Luthuli who also received the memorandum promised the marchers that he will refer it (memorandum) to the national Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.