Working to eradicate gender-based violence (GBV) is a complex and long-term endeavour. We need collaborative efforts across sectors and governance institutions to understand the history of violence in South Africa and how its gendered nature is exacerbated by the devastating effects of patriarchy. The National Business Initiative’s focus on gender equity looks at this and facilitates platforms for business to meaningfully engage on this critical issue. Bridgette Mdangayi and Khanyisa Nomoyi, both of the NBI, explore the nature of GBV and how the private sector should address it.
The illicit economy benefited hugely – as the effects of the lockdown began to intensify, with alcohol and cigarettes banned, a surge in looting from alcohol stores took place. Hellen Ndlovu, director of regulatory and public policy at South African Breweries, warned that the illicit liquor trade would give crime syndicates a boost and homemade liquor could lead to alcohol poisoning. The already thriving illicit trade in tobacco, worth around R6 billion a year, was expected to grow exponentially. South Africa remained the only country to ban tobacco sales after India and Botswana had them reinstated.
On 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The resultant hard lockdown – with day-time restrictions and night-time curfews – had a dramatic effect on crime and public safety.
Crime statistics show that murder declined by 64%, rape by 82%, attempted murder by 56%, assault with grievous bodily harm by 80% and robbery with aggravating circumstances by 64% during the lockdown period, compared to the same period last year. Carjacking was down by 71% and house robberies by 49%. Although Police Minister, Bheki Cele, suggested that the alcohol ban played a role in the drop in crime, this is not borne out by statistics from other countries, where crime levels dropped despite few bans on alcohol sales. Statistics from the Institute of Security Studies indicated that domestic violence cases reported between March and April dropped by almost 70%. However, this is far from the full picture, as many women were unable to leave their homes to access help, or seek privacy to call helplines.