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Union calls for tougher sentences after 8 women are gang-raped in South Africa

2 August, 2022IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has called upon the courts to hand out tougher sentences after the arrest of a gang of armed men that raped 8 women in Johannesburg.

Over 80 suspects have appeared in court facing charges of 32 counts of rape and attempted murder. The attackers are allegedly part of criminal syndicates that are involved in artisanal and small-scale mining in some abandoned mines in South Africa.

The women aged 19-35 were part of a production crew of 12 women and 10 men that was shooting a music video at a mine dump when they were attacked by heavily armed men on 28 July. The crew was also robbed of personal belongings.

Although South Africa has passed laws and legislation to end gender-based violence and harassment, that include the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act and the Domestic Violence Amendment Act, the cases keep increasing and unions want the courts to prosecute more cases and convict the offenders. South Africa ratified International Labour Organization Convention 190 in 2021 which aims to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work.

The country also has a national strategic plan on gender-based violence and femicide. In the plan, President Cyril Ramaphosa describes gender-based violence and harassment as a scourge in which “rape and sexual violence have become hyperendemic” and that “South Africa holds the shameful distinction of being one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman.”

The location of a video set is a workspace at that moment. Artists are deemed a vulnerable sector based on the type of work that they do, and as a trade union it is our right and joint responsibility with other formations to uphold and adhere to Convention 190 that commits to the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence,”

says Mathapelo Khanye, NUM national secretary for the women’s structure.

Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa says:

“We are appalled by the rape and sexual violence which continue to traumatize South African women, and support unions and civil society organizations in their campaigns to eliminate rape, and gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH).” 

The Sub-Saharan Africa regional office continues to carry out training and campaigns to sensitise and equip unions with strategies for the prevention of GBVH, and the adoption of workplace policies that provide safe working environments.