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Plan to combat gender violence

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe yesterday launched a programme against gender-based violence including violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) community.

Radebe hailed the equality clause in the South African Constitution as “one of the most progressive constitutional provisions in the world”.

He vowed that the justice system would deal harshly with perpetrators amid concerns about how hate crimes are dealt with in the country.

“Notwithstanding the comprehensive constitutional and legal framework and protection for LGBTI persons, we have sadly witnessed acts of discrimination and violent attacks being perpetrated against LGBTI persons,” Radebe said.

He was speaking at the launch of the LGBTT National Intervention Strategy developed by the National Task Team, which has also established a Rapid Response team, and an information pamphlet of frequently asked questions regarding LGBTI persons.

The terms of reference were developed by various departments including Justice and Constitutional Development, SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority among others over a year ago.

Radebe said the rapid response team was established to urgently attend to the pending and reported cases in the criminal justice system where hate crimes have been committed against LGBTI persons.

He said the team was fully operational and progress was being made in speeding up cases in the criminal justice system. “Of the cases received from civil society organisations we can report that 14 cases have been finalised.

“Nineteen cases are pending within the criminal justice system while eight cannot be traced due to incomplete or incorrect information submitted by the organisations involved,” Radebe said.

The National Intervention Strategy is tasked with developing prevention programmes aimed at addressing violence and discrimination perpetrated on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, improving the response of the criminal justice system and strengthening the capacity.

Radebe said while there was a need for legislation on hate crime, current laws were adequate to deal with hate crimes.