Sonke calls on ANC structures to take swift action in the case of Patrick Wisani, ANCYL chairman for inner city Joburg

Media reports today reveal that Patrick Wisani, ANC Youth League Chairman for Inner City Joburg, has been arrested for allegedly killing his girlfriend by beating her to death with a sjambok after he returned from the ANCYL National Congress. Reports indicate that the deceased “suffered multiple open wounds across her entire body”. Media coverage also indicates that “this version was also corroborated by neighbours, who wanted to remain anonymous.” The name of the domestic violence murder victim has not yet been released.

According to The Star, the deceased had endured violence from Wisani, as close friends who share the Yeoville house that the couple have been living in told the publication that the woman “had tried to lay assault charges against Wisani in the past”.

Sonke Gender Justice calls on the African National Congress, the ANC Youth League and the ANC Women’s League to take swift action to ensure justice is done, and, if guilty as alleged, that Patrick Wisani, the ANC Youth League chairman for Joburg Inner City, be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We call for Wisani’s immediate suspension and for the ANCYL to cooperate fully with the police in ensuring a speedy trial.

Last month, on Women’s Day, newly elected ANC Women’s League President and Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini vowed to deal with men who abuse women and children. Speaking in Sasolburg in the Free State, she said “we are going to mobilise women to fight all forms of abuse. We are also going to show them (men who abuse women and children) that the law is not expensive”. She added that she would get legal support for women who survived abuse.

Wisani’s girlfriend ultimately did not survive the abuse to benefit from the legal support Dlamini is envisaging. She is now dead. We appeal to Dlamini, and all ANC leaders, that her death must not be in vain. The ANC Women’s League president must use her power and influence to prevent women from dying at the hands of men who claim to love them.

Equally important, in line with the longstanding call by the over 50 organisations who make up the GBV NSP Coalition, we call on the ANC and the government to implement a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence to ensure justice for all survivors, accountability for all perpetrators, and to guarantee that a GBV Prevention Plan is fully funded and finally put in place to stop all forms of domestic and sexual violence.

We note with concern the problematic language used by police spokesperson Sergeant Nduduzi Zondo who said “there was a dispute between the couple that resulted in the suspect assaulting the lady… until she passed away”. This language obscures agency and responsibility and does not convey clearly that violence is the result of a choice on the part of the perpetrator rather than an accident for which responsibility is unclear.

We call on Sergeant Zondo and all other SAPS spokespersons to use language that conveys clearly that domestic violence is the result of an individual’s choice to exercise power and control, that it has devastating consequences, that it is illegal, that it is never the fault of the victim, and that the police will always prosecute to the full extent of the law.

To ensure this, we call on the police to train their spokespeople on domestic and sexual violence, in line with the regulations of both the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act.

Sonke has long held that public figures influence social norms and so shape our values and priorities. For this reason, Sonke has consistently held public figures accountable when they violate women’s rights or use, promote or condone violence. As we have done in many other similar situations, we will monitor this case to ensure that justice is done.

Media Contacts:

Mbuyiselo Botha: 011 339 3589 /

Desmond Lesejane: 011 339 3589 /