Cabinet worried about spate of killings, orders change in laws

23 Feb 2014 13:50pm
WINDHOEK, 23 FEB (NAMPA) – The Political Bureau of the Swapo Party resolved to amend the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977, in order to tighten the requirements for bail in cases of gender-based violence.
The Swapo Politburo called a special Cabinet meeting on Friday, during which top Government leaders also called for the amendment of the Correctional Service Act of 2012, in order to deny parole to persons who are accused and convicted of gender-based violence (GBV).
The special Cabinet meeting was called following the spate of killings of women in the country. Cabinet members deliberated on specific interventions which must be introduced by the government to address the alarming situation of GBV in the country.
On Saturday, a sixth woman lost her life in just three weeks at the hands of her lover in Windhoek.
The latest victim was a 32-year-old Motswana woman. She was a third-year student at the United Lutheran Theological Seminary Paulinum Campus in Windhoek's Pionierspark Extension 1 residential area.
A statement issued after the special Cabinet session said Cabinet directed the Ministry of Justice to introduce legislation aimed at imposing longer prison sentences to persons who are convicted and sentenced for GBV.
Currently, the sentence for murder in domestic violence cases is between 30 and 35 years.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Education was directed to ensure that the curricula of schools and other institutions of learning should include aspects of educating the youth about the need to avoid, prevent and discourage GBV.
“A campaign against gender-based violence must be initiated involving Government leaders, Members of Parliament, religious leaders, traditional leaders, community leaders, civic organisations, Regional Councils and Local Authority Councils, and the business community,” Cabinet resolved.
It further decided that a suitable date and time be identified, during which all persons in Namibia will be required to observe a minute of silence in honour of all women and girls who are the victims of GBV, and that all bells in the country should ring concurrently.
It also called for the fast-track of investigations and trials of GBV cases.
Cabinet also called on the government to provide mandatory counselling to all persons who have committed GBV, and also offer counselling to the victims of GBV and their families.
The statement said the Office of the Prime Minister was ordered to coordinate and convene a national conference on GBV as soon as possible.
was quoted in the statement as saying that a national day of prayers should be declared on Thursday, 06 March 2014, starting at 10h00, and political leaders, students, civil servants, workers, the youth, peasants, traditional leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, civic organisations, community leaders and all other Namibians from all parts of the country and from all walks of life be mobilised to participate in the planned event.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba will deliver a message to the nation on that occasion.
Cabinet also called on government and other public leaders to speak out against GBV whenever they address meetings and other public gatherings.
It further called on the Ministry of Justice to introduce a witness-protection programme to protect witnesses who testify against accused persons in cases of GBV.
“Effective measures should be adopted by Government in order to address alcohol and drug abuse in the country,” it said further.