President Cyril Ramaphosa says sexual offence cases which have been closed or not properly investigated in the past, would be reviewed, and that harsher sentences would now be imposed on perpetrators of gender-based violence.
Ramaphosa was reacting to days of unrest and protests in parts of the country owing to violence against women and children, and xenophobic attacks bedeviling parts of Gauteng as 10 people have been confirmed dead in running battles between police, South Africans and foreign nationals.
Ramaphosa made a clarion call to men in the country to end the scourge of violence against women and children.
At the height of protest action this week was a call to end gender-based violence with protesters in Cape Town taking their fight to Parliament and parts of the CBD.
"We have heard the calls of the women of our country. The collective anger, fear and pain must strengthen our resolve to end all forms of violence perpetrated by men," Ramaphosa said as he began his much anticipated address to the nation on Thursday.
"All crimes against women and children should attract harsher sentences, a life sentence against men who perpetrates violence against women, must mean life," he declared.
The address comes as he met protesters in Parliament on Thursday.
"We are reviewing laws on sexual offenses to prioritize the needs of survivors. We are going to overhaul the national register of sexual offenders. It will list all the men who are convicted of violence against women and children," Ramaphosa said.
He said he would also ask that Parliament debate making the list public.
"Gender-based violence cases which have been closed or have not been properly investigated will need to be reviewed," he added.
"To the men in our country, now is the time to declare that 'enough is enough'."