Sonke demands government heeds its call for a national strategic plan on gender-based violence

The day after former ANCYL official, Patrick Wisani was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the brutal murder of his then girlfriend 24-year old Nosipho Mandleleni in Yeoville, the boyfriend of Karabo Mokoena appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court after being accused of killing her.

Mokoena was reported missing on 28 April and her burnt body was discovered a day later in a veld in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg. Bail application for the 27-year man will be heard on 24 May.

These cases – and the many more that occur each year – highlight that we are still a very long way from eradicating gender-based violence in South Africa.

The statistics speak for themselves: South Africa’s femicide rate is 5 times higher than the global average, a woman is killed every 8 hours by her intimate partner,1 while according to a 2009 Medical Research Council study, less than 38% of intimate partner femicides lead to conviction in less than two years.

Femicide, the killing of a female person by an intimate partner, is a manifestation of violent masculinities and harmful gender norms. In order to tackle the disturbingly high rates of femicide in this country, we must do more as a society to deal with toxic notions of manhood:  the idea that to be a man means to be powerful and dominant, the idea that men have control over women’s bodies. We need to acknowledge that women face danger daily – from strangers, yes but mostly from within their own homes.

Sonke offers our condolences to the family of Karabo Mokoena and commit to continuing to fight for justice – for her and other women like her.

Sonke also demands that the South African government take its call for a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence (NSPGBV) seriously. An NSPGBV will provide for better service delivery for victims of violence, but will also look at the critical primary prevention aspect of GBV and the need to roll out prevention programmes that address harmful gender norms and masculinity, and equitable relationships – amongst men and women alike.

Our research shows that there exist a growing number of men who are concerned about gender-based violence in their communities. Sonke’s One Man Can campaign has shown positive results at the individual, interpersonal and community levels with respect to gender equality and the prevention of violence against women. We need more such programmes.

Nonhlanhla Skosana, Community Education and Mobilisation Manager, Sonke Gender Justice says: “South African society as a whole needs to talk openly about gender-based violence. Men need to stand up and hold each other accountable. We also urgently need to see politicians taking a stand against gender-based violence.”

An NSPGBV would provide a coordinated response amongst government, civil society and the private sector and hold each stakeholder accountable. Sonke is also calling for the NSPGBV to be costed and for the necessary funding to be made available.




  1. Every Eight Hours: Intimate femicide in South Africa 10 years later!, South African Medical Council, Research Brief, August 2012. Authors: Naeemah Abrahams, Shanaaz Mathews, Rachel Jewkes, Lorna J Martin and Carl Lombard