Women’s Day is supposed to be the day South Africa celebrates its women. Celebrating their immeasurable role in getting the country where it is today.

But, as is often the case, there is some tragedy which reminds everyone of how far the country still has to go towards achieving total liberation for women. The reported gruesome gang rape of eight of women in Krugersdorp’s West Village recently is casting a pall over today’s Woman’s Day celebrations.

And it doesn’t help that the Minister of Police finds it an opportune time to philosophize about rape and try to sound funny. “It is okay for a man to leave a woman alone … to sleep. Some of us do it all the time… I find it hard to imagine a zama zama [an illegal miner] with a beautiful woman.”

And the one quip that takes the cake in his cringeworthy collection of quips: “This one lady was lucky because she was only raped by one man.” All this from a sitting minister of police. It is not as though rape and the abuse of women will be reduced if Minister Bheki Cele starts saying all the right things, but he is head of the one service that is supposed to reassure survivors that the country cares.

Cele, besides his gaffes, is doing a disservice to the fight against gender-based-violence (GBV) because he has not come up with an action plan that shows his department is serious about fighting the abuse of women.

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For a man who loves the sound of his own voice so much, he should be erring on the side of providing some sort of plan or programme, with tangible goals and deadlines about the actions his department is taking in dealing with the violence targeted specifically at women.

It is true that rape and intimate partner violence can only be stopped by the perpetrator and not the police, but a serious deterrent would be the knowledge they would be arrested. That starts with the leader of the institution enforcing the law behaving and talking like someone citizens can take seriously, not as an embarrassment to the cause for the emancipation of women.

The allegations that illegal miners are terrorising communities should be the starting point of a real plan. It does not help that the focus shifts from their criminal activities to their illegal status as foreigners in this country.

Although their illegal citizenship status makes it easy to arrest this particular group, the focus should be on how to deal with the scourge of illegal mining, which has brought along with it lawlessness that has mushroomed into wanton attacks on the communities they operate in, especially against women.

South Africa owes its women a national plan of action that includes having its leaders be in tune with the women it purports to be protecting. Cele must stop threatening to launch a multifaceted approach to fighting GBV and actually do it instead of just talking about it.

Seeing as President Cyril Ramaphosa hardly ever acts to remove errant ministers, Cele’s first step should be to stop his public rants and let a suitably qualified person, like his spokes- person Lirandzu Themba, actually do his communications bit. He owes women that much

By editor