Soul City Institute demands justice for slain Tshegofatso Pule

The Soul City Institute has called for justice following the brutal murder of Soweto woman, Tshegofatso Pule, who was found dead hanging from a tree this week.

Pule, who was eight months pregnant at her time of death, was found hanging from the tree and had stab wounds on her body. 

The Soul City Institute's Gail Smith said they were demanding justice for Pule, for her unborn child, and for all women and girls awaiting justice. 

"We extend our sincerest condolences to the Pule family and to the community that loved, nurtured and held Tshegofatso Pule as their own. As an intersectional feminist institute working with womxn, girls, and the communities they live in, we are acutely aware that violence against womxn and girls is endemic, widespread, and normalised," Smith said. 

She said South Africa’s femicide rate was five times the global average with three women dying at the hands of the intimate partner every day in SA. 

"That this reality has become part of an accepted ‘norm’ should appall us all. There is nothing ‘normal’ about a society in which womxn are routinely raped and sexually violated, where womxn’s bodies are routinely mutilated, disfigured, dismembered, burnt - as if to underscore the total disregard for the fundamental humanity of the person," she said. 

Smith said the fact that the butchering of a 28-year-old woman who was then mutilated and strung up in a tree, was 'normal', was an egregious affront to the founding values of the country's constitutional democracy – equality, dignity and freedom.

"In a month dedicated to honouring the memories of black youth whose promise was cut short in 1976, it is an assault on those whom we seek to honour, to see a young womxn and her unborn child cut down with so little regard for the hard-won rights of our struggle for liberation."

"Within just nine days of the national lockdown which began at midnight on March 26, over 2 300 complaints of gender-based violence were registered by the South African Police Service. Of these, only 148 suspects were arrested, underscoring the staggering lack of political will in the criminal justice system to addressing the ongoing scourge of femicide and GBV," she said. 

Smith said the swift and coordinated responses of several government departments to the Covid-19 pandemic indicated a clear and demonstrable capacity to address pressing health and social crises in a coordinated manner that eliminates the silos that bedevil the day to day provision of essential services in South Africa.   

"South Africa has witnessed what political will looks like. South Africa has seen what government departments can and will do in times of national crisis. We call on President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Ronald Lamola, Minister Bheki Cele, and Minister Zweli Mkhize to show the same decisive and unified stance taken against the Covid-19 pandemic and to bring the same political will and ministerial unity to bear in pursuit of justice for Tshegofatso Pule."

Smith said the institute is calling for government to show women and girls what political will, exercised in pursuit of women’s rights to equality, dignity and freedom, looked like. 

Original article here.

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