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Tag Archive: Cape Town Lawyer

Rape prosecutors in England and Wales given new advice over dating apps

Nude selfies and use of such apps should not be taken as ‘blanket consent’, says CPS

Reprinted from the Guardian, by Caelainn Barr – 2020-10-19

Dating apps like Tinder have come out on top of conventional dating websites like Match.com, at least among those under 35. As users exchange intimate photos and messages before even meeting, what does this mean for the concept of consent? In England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service has made it clear that exchanging nude selfies does NOT equate to sexual consent, as this article from the Guardian explains.

nude selfies are not consent
The updated legal guidance for rape and sexual assault cases comes into effect on 1 November. Photograph: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

Prosecutors are to receive new guidance on common myths and stereotypes in rape and sexual assault cases, in an attempt to turn the tide on plummeting rape prosecutions in England and Wales.

Revamped advice from the Crown Prosecution Service will cover the use of dating apps and sending explicit photos, as well as the impact of trauma and striking the balance between privacy and a thorough investigation.

Prosecutors are to be told meeting people on hook-up sites and sending explicit photos should not be taken as “blanket consent” for sex, while details about how trauma can impact victims’ memories are to be addressed in greater detail

The guidance for prosecutors, which comes into effect on 1 November and is subject to a three-month consultation, contains updates on 39 rape myths and stereotypes including false statements such as “If you send sexual images or messages prior to meeting someone, then having sex is inevitable”, and “If you meet men online or through hook-up apps you want sex and should be ready to offer sex”.

Rape convictions in England and Wales have fallen to a record low. Prosecutions and convictions more than halved in the three years to 2019-20 despite an increase in reported rapes. Last year there were 1,439 convictions, although more than 55,000 rapes were recorded by police in England and Wales.

The guidance is an attempt to address conviction rates among 18- to 24-year-olds, which are among the lowest of any age group. In 2018 the Guardian revealed men aged 18-24 were consistently less likely to be found guilty than older men on trial.

Updated guidance to prosecutors
Updated guidance to prosecutors (left) is identical to that from the merits-based approach (right). Photograph: The Guardian

The guidance issued also reinstates elements of guidance outlining the “merits-based approach”, which were previously removed. The merits-based approach (MBA) means a prosecutor should treat evidence as if it will be heard by an unprejudiced jury, rather than the “bookmaker’s approach” where a prosecutor tries to second-guess a jury.

Women’s organisations have accused the CPS of quietly moving from a merits-based approach to a bookmaker’s approach, meaning they were less likely to bring a prosecution if they thought a jury could be prejudiced against a victim.

Updated guidance to prosecutors
The guidance contains updates on 39 rape myths and stereotypes. Photograph: The Guardian

A CPS spokesperson said: “Our approach to prosecuting rape has not changed. Our legal test for prosecution – the full code test – has never included a specific reference to a merits-based assessment because it is already an integral part of the evidential stage.”

Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice said: “We welcome the introduction of new guidance which we hope will improve decision-making by police and prosecutors and begin to reverse the recent dramatic decline in the volume of prosecutions. We believe the decline was largely caused as a result of a retreat by the CPS from a robust approach informed by the ‘merits-based approach’ to decision-making.

“However, the guidance must be properly implemented, we have seen far too many decisions recently infected by the CPS risk-averse approach and a failure to follow existing guidance on rape myths and stereotypes, with the consequence that many victims have been denied justice and perpetrators have been left free to attack again.”

Earlier this year two charities, End Violence Against Women and the Centre for Women’s Justice, were granted a judicial review of how rape cases were being prosecuted by the CPS.

At issue is whether there has been a change in how the CPS prosecutes rape. The Guardian revealed the details of a training roadshow which took place in 2017, where prosecutors were advised that prosecution rates could be improved by taking the “weak cases out of the system”.

Siobhan Blake, rape lead at the CPS, said: “We share the public’s concern about the disparity between the number of rape and serious sexual offences reported and those cases getting to court, and are determined to make significant changes to improve that for survivors of these appalling crimes.

“Clear, up to date guidance is crucial to help our specialist prosecutors make fair and effective decisions and make sure that justice is delivered in every case for victims and alleged perpetrators.”

If you have been affected…

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, family attorneys SD Law have deep experience of helping women who experience abuse. If you have suffered sexual assault, and have been too scared to bring charges, we will support you through the process and help keep you safe. If you experience intimate partner violence, we can serve a protection order on your partner and  help you initiate divorce proceedings, if appropriate. We will connect you to relevant support services. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za for a confidential discussion. We can call you back on a safe number.

Further reading:

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COVID-19 In South Africa: Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

We have covered the COVID-19 pandemic, as it relates to South Africa and the issues that concern South Africans, since the lockdown was first announced on March 27th. We have reported on gender-based violence, the alcohol ban, evictions, and the overall impact on economic prosperity. This report from UNDP on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 provides a high-level analysis of what we can expect, as we slowly recover.

Reprinted from reliefweb.int, prepared by the United Nations Development Programme – 2020-08-24

socio-economic impact of covid-19 on south africaSouth Africa is the country with the fifth-highest number of cases COVID-19 in the world, and the highest number of cases on the African continent. © UNDP Africa/ Morris Moma

South Africa’s GDP will take at least five years to recover from COVID-19 impact, says UNDP study

Pretoria, 24 August 2020 – South Africa’s overall GDP is expected to decline by at least 5.1 and up to 7.9 percent in 2020 and recover slowly through 2024. This will lead to major setbacks in addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality, according to a new UNDP study on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in South Africa.

The study focuses on how COVID-19 will drive temporary and long-term changes in poverty levels in South Africa. The number of households below the poverty line increases as households fall from the lower middle class. Fifty-four percent of households that have been pushed out of permanent jobs to informal or temporary contracts as a coping mechanism for businesses affected by COVID-19, are likely to fall into poverty after the 6-months stimulus package is over. Thirty-four percent of households are likely to exit the middle class into vulnerability.

“Inequalities within and among nations are being exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19, as the poor and vulnerable are unable to protect themselves,” said UN Resident Coordinator Nardos Bekele-Tomas. “While Government social protection grants tend to target the poorest, this study posits that care and support needs to be provided to those at the borderline of the poverty line, such as the vulnerable middle class, to reduce their likelihood of slipping into poverty.”

Populations hit especially hard are already-impoverished female-headed households, persons with only primary education, persons without social assistance, black populations, and heads of households who have been pushed from permanent to informal employment.

The launch of “The Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of COVID-19 in South Africa” report brought together representatives from government, civil society, private sector and academia. South Africa’s Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Dlamini-Zuma urged that the study should find its way into every district and municipality. She called for a skills revolution complemented by the adoption of a technology strategy and the delivery of a district developing model by promoting gender-responsive budgeting.

The personal testimony of Khumbulile Thabethe, a single parent with three children, was a stark reminder of how the virus impact hits hardest on the most vulnerable ones. “I’ve had to prioritize food over winter clothing for my three kids. Lockdown started in the warmer months and as we moved to the colder months, I could not cope,” she told the audience.

South Africa is the country with the fifth-highest number of cases COVID-19 in the world, and the highest number of cases on the African continent. The study further observes that economic sectors most disadvantaged by the COVID-19 outbreak include textiles, education services, catering and accommodations (including tourism), beverages, tobacco, glass products, and footwear. Small and medium enterprises are most negatively impacted.

Further reading:

Life: Working, pivoting and surviving under lockdown in SA

‘Calamitous’: domestic violence set to soar by 20% during global lockdown

Lockdown is hard on everyone

Women’s Day in a time of COVID-19

Ignoring effects of Covid-19 on women could cost $5tn, warns Melinda Gates

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Narcissistic abuse and how to deal with it – VIDEO

You may have heard of narcissistic abuse, but do you know how to identify it and deal with it? Hi, I’m Simon Dippenaar, and I’m a family lawyer who has dealt with this issue extensively. If you think you might be a victim of narcissistic abuse, here’s what you need to know.

Identifying narcissistic behaviour and its more extreme form, narcissistic personality disorder, can be difficult, especially because narcissists typically focus their attention on destroying your self-esteem. This often causes you to question whether your feelings and reactions are valid, and can even leave you doubting your sanity. But make no mistake, narcissistic personality disorder is real, and the repercussions of being on its receiving end can be severe.

A narcissist is often very charming and likeable at first. They know how to make you feel special. However, this initial impression often belies the fact that they are driven by self-interest, power and control. Their primary focus is themselves, and this makes itself apparent in their profound arrogance and their inability to empathise. 

Narcissists will do anything they can to avoid engaging with their own painful emotions. And this avoidance manifests in a number of different ways, including verbal abuse, manipulation and gaslighting, lying, withholding love and affection, constantly exercising control and love bombing.

Shaming, bullying, belittling, threatening and criticising those around them are regular tactics of narcissists. They tend to shift blame quickly, and are likely to make you feel embarrassed or afraid in an effort to protect themselves. Narcissists desperately crave external validation and admiration and will do whatever they can to avoid feeling bad about themselves.

They also make you doubt yourself and invalidate your experiences. This can cause you to feel disconnected from your own intuition, and bound by feelings of fear, responsibility and guilt. Narcissists are also likely to lie. These are not benign white lies. Instead, they’re serious, pathological lies that narcissists hide behind in order to maintain a firm grip over the power in their relationships.

Withholding love and affection, as well as money, sex and communication, further helps narcissists exercise control. This can make you feel neglected, which is especially problematic for children of narcissistic parents. It’s possible that neglected children will grow up to become narcissists themselves, since they’ve been taught from a young age that one’s individual needs are all that matter. Control is further exercised in the narcissist’s influence on what those around them wear and eat, who they interact with and what kind of work they do.

Of course, a relationship with a narcissist isn’t always difficult. Narcissists want people to adore them, and so there are often periods of happiness that are driven by large, over-the-top gestures called “love bombing”. This helps narcissists keep their partners coming back, but at some point the narcissist will always return to abusive behaviour.

If this sounds familiar, and you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, help is available. Psychologists are equipped to deal with the mental and emotional ramifications of this sort of abuse and can help you to disentangle yourself from your narcissistic relationship. If you decide to step away entirely, which is usually the best approach, our team of divorce and family law experts are here to lend a hand. For a confidential appointment, please call me on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 and we can help you start afresh.

Further reading:

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Women’s Day in a time of COVID-19

What has COVID-19 shown us about women and leadership?

Women's Day in a time of COVID-19

Women’s Day in South Africa commemorates, as everyone knows, the historic march on the Union Buildings in 1956 by 20,000 women in protest against the discriminatory pass laws of the day. The march, which was entirely peaceful and included half an hour of standing in complete silence, was a compelling act of dissent against white male-dominated oppression. Women’s Day is meant to celebrate the power of this act and the influence this gesture had on the political climate of the day.

Yet, 64 years later, the narrative around Women’s Day has degenerated to a mealy-mouthed salute to the feminine aesthetic and a reinforcement of stereotypical female roles. Listening to a radio presenter going on about his wife this morning, and how wonderful she makes his life, I couldn’t help but wonder what her life is like, forever having to bolster his ego. Online Women’s Day messages are cringe-worthy: “Spring and women have much in common. They both are about flowering, revival, inspiration and beauty. Wish you to stay young, fresh and feminine 24/7. Happy Women’s Day!” “Dear and beloved women! I wish that this wonderful holiday reminds you of the joy of motherhood and of happiness in marriage. It’s Women’s Day today so let yourself enjoy being women in full!”

This portrayal of women is far removed from the force, eloquence and leadership demonstrated by those women in Pretoria in 1956, which got me to thinking about leadership, COVID-19, and the best examples of command and authority we’ve seen globally over the past few months. I don’t think I’ll upset anyone by saying Donald Trump doesn’t make the cut – not by a long shot. But which country has led the world in taking swift, decisive action to control the pandemic at an early stage? New Zealand, led by Jacinda Ardern.

Not all great leaders are women, but bad leaders tend to be men

Of course not all countries that have managed the crisis responsibly are led by women. That would be statistically unlikely as there are far fewer female than male leaders in the world today. And not all men are bad leaders. It would be just as sexist to say that as to claim that “all women are bad drivers”.

But it is notable that the worst cases of incompetent leadership involve men…Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Jair Bolsanaro; and some of the best-handled countries are led by women…New Zealand, Germany, Scotland (in the case of COVID-19, the four countries of the UK are governed by their devolved governments, so Boris Johnson is only responsible for England. Scotland’s First Minister is Nicola Sturgeon, and there is strong consensus that Scotland has weathered the pandemic far better than England).

How to make it in a man’s world

If we look back to some of the pioneering women leaders of nations, such as Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth I, they were admired (if not liked) for being tough. They were “like men”. That was the only way for a woman to gain any purchase in a male-dominated political environment. Modern women in power are more likely to succeed by channelling their soft skills – their so-called feminine side. Many of the behaviours that make exceptional leaders are more typical of women than men. However, dominant male behaviours are more effective at getting people into leadership positions in the first place. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Cindy Gallop, writing in the Harvard Business Review, “…gender differences in leadership effectiveness (what it takes to perform well) are out of sync with gender differences in leadership emergence (what it takes to make it to the top).” They say there are a number of leadership lessons men can learn from the average woman. Note…not just from Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon, but from the average woman.

(Don’t) take it to the limit

Women (and I know this is a broad generalisation, but evidence bears it out) know their limitations. This does not mean women lack self-belief; rather it means they avoid the trap of over-confidence. Chamorro-Premuzic and Gallop say, “The only reason to be utterly devoid of self-doubt and insecurities is delusion.” Now who does that sound like? Women are better at putting the team ahead of themselves. Men’s leadership style is often narcissistic and self-centred. Women are more empathetic, and make a stronger emotional connection with their followers. Is this why New Zealanders were willing to endure a very hard lockdown (almost as hard as ours!) when the virus had barely touched their shores – Ardern had connected with them emotionally? Quite probably. Many of our friends in Scotland talked about “Nicola doing a good job”. Did anyone in England refer to “Boris”? Probably not, or not affectionately anyhow.

Female leaders are more likely to be humble than their male counterparts, as humility is intrinsically a feminine trait. Humility enables leaders to acknowledge mistakes, learn from experience, take others’ views into account, and be willing to change. It’s hard to avoid mention of Trump again. I can’t imagine him ever doing any of this.

Be a part of the generation that ends gender inequality

The theme for Women’s Month 2020 is “Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future.” As she announced it, Minister for Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, called on South Africans to “Be a part of the generation that ends gender inequality”. That’s a big ask, not because it’s unachievable, but because it is vague. “Play your part in ending gender-based violence” is clear. It’s easy to identify actions that will reduce GBV. Ending gender inequality is harder, because inequality happens not only at a structural level but at an attitudinal one.

Men, learn from women

No one wanted COVID-19, and no one would wish it on the world again. But there are many lessons that can be learned from this pandemic and the way the world’s leaders have responded. One of them is the value of gender equality in leadership. When the history books are written about 2020, there will be very clear winners and losers in the COVID-19 stakes. And most of the winners have women leaders. Men need to learn different leadership approaches from women, rather than women being instructed to learn leadership tactics from men.

True gender equality will only come about when we dispose of stereotypes and acknowledge gender differences for what they can teach us. So-called soft skills, most commonly associated with women, might be the only thing that allows this world to survive.

Men and women are not identical – but they are equal. Happy Women’s Day everyone.

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Crime stats – what do they mean?

A look at the key messages emerging from this year’s crime statistics

Crime statistics

Crime stats for South Africa were published last week by SAPS. Overall, reported crime decreased slightly, but violent crime, also referred to as contact crime, including murder, continued its upward trend. The statistics cover the period 1 April to 31 March, 2020, and so do not include any possible influence of the lockdown on criminal behaviour, for better or worse. The statistics were released a month early this year, in preparation for a move to quarterly reporting of the figures, first proposed in 2016.

Types of crime

21 categories of crime are included in the statistics. The majority of these (17) are reported by the public. These include home invasions, sexual assault, hijacking, etc. Four categories describe results of police activity, e.g. drunk driving detected via roadblocks. Therefore, an increase in police-reported crime should be viewed as positive, indicating more effective policing. We would hope that a drop in crimes reported by the public would signify a reduction in overall crime, but unfortunately many crimes go unreported, particularly crimes involving intimate partner violence.

Across all categories, contact crimes were up, while other types of crime were down.

SA crime stats for 2020 (1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020)

Category20192020Change
Contact Crimes617 210621 282+0.7%
Contact-related Crimes117 172112 244-4.2%
Property-related Crimes495 161469 224-5.2%
Other Serious Crimes444 447426 589-4.0%
Total public reported1 673 9901 629 319-2.7%
Crime detected as a result of police action339 281290 176-14.5%
Total2 013 2711 919 495-4.7%

What does this mean in real terms?

Breaking these broad categories down, cases of carjacking have increased significantly year on year, with 18,162 cases reported over the period, up 13.3% from last year. In other words, 50 cars are stolen in South Africa every day. It’s reasonable to assume that the reporting rate for car theft is high, so these figures are likely to be accurate.

Burglary or robbery?

The next largest increase related to robberies at non-residential premises – up 3.3%. However, robbery at residential premises was down 5.8% and burglary at residential premises was down 6.7%, good news for all of us who want to feel safe in our own homes. What’s the difference between burglary and robbery? Both involve theft. Burglary involves entering a building illegally with the intention to commit a crime. If you come home to find your window smashed and valuable items missing, you have been burgled. Robbery involves force. If an intruder enters your home while you are there and uses force – or threatens to use force – to steal your valuables, you have been robbed. This is why these two seemingly similar crimes are captured separately in the statistics.

Murder rate still unacceptably high

Murders in South Africa have increased by 1.4%, to 21,325 reported cases. This amounts to 58 people murdered in the country every day, or, for every 100,000 people, 35.8 were murdered. Firearms were the most common weapon used in murder and attempted murder, followed by knives, though knives were used most often in cases of grievous bodily harm. Firearms also dwarf other instruments as the weapon of choice in carjacking and robbery at both non-residential and residential premises.

Sexual offences

Sadly, rape and sexual offences are up year on year by 1.7%, and Gauteng is the province with the highest reported number, followed closely by Kwa-Zulu Natal. Given that many rapes go unreported, an increase in these numbers may point to an increase in reporting rather than an increase in crimes. However, either way, rape is out of control in South Africa and is our national shame. 

The importance of reporting crime

The Chair of the Sea Point (Cape Town) Community Policing Forum (CPF), Heather Tager, has stressed the importance of reporting crime to the police. “As has been stated many times in the past crime stats only relate to the cases that have been opened. That is why residents are often reminded of the importance to do so to ensure that a full picture of crime in the area is recorded.

“Property crime – which tends to be the most significant in our area – has shown a fall overall especially in the area of theft out of motor vehicle – but I fear this is due mainly to non-reporting. 

“…if residents do not report such incidents they will not be reflected officially. As a consequence SAPS at Provincial and National level will have a distorted picture of crime within our community and what resources are needed to address that. I cannot stress too strongly the importance of making sure what is happening here is properly put on record with cases being opened.”

Reporting crime is not just about accurate statistics. Data serves a purpose. One of the measures included in the crime stats is a breakdown of the top 30 SAPS stations where the various categories of crime are reported. This is critical information for decision-makers in determining budgets and allocating resources. We echo Heather Tager’s plea to report any crimes you may unfortunately experience.

If you need to report a crime

Crimes go unreported for many reasons. Victims may not understand the process of reporting a crime, or may not have resources to visit the police station. In the case of rape, many women are scared or traumatised. There is no time limit for reporting a crime. If you have been the victim of assault or other contact crime and are not ready to report it, you can visit your doctor and have the incident documented on your medical records in complete confidence. You can also ask an attorney to log your details – date, time, name of perpetrator, etc. They can photograph any bruising or cuts you may have and date stamp the photos. We at SD Law will provide this service on a pro bono basis and open a file for you to access when you are ready. We will also assist you to report any other type of crime you may have suffered, if you feel unable or unwilling to go to the police on your own. For more information Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za to discuss your case in complete confidence.

Further reading:

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Ignoring effects of Covid-19 on women could cost $5tn, warns Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates speaks out about the need for leaders to take into account the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women, as we face the long, slow task of recovery.

Reprinted from the Guardian, by Melinda Gates – 2020-07-15

‘We get recovery if we get equality’ philanthropist argues in new paper urging policymakers to address unpaid labour.

Effects of COVID-19 on women
Guarani women and children in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. Gates said inclusion of women from diverse backgrounds is key to fundamental change. Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

The failure of leaders to take into account the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women, and their roles in lessening its harm, will mean a long, slow recovery that could cost the world economy trillions of dollars, Melinda Gates has warned.

Even a four-year delay in programmes that promote gender equality, such as advancing women’s digital and financial inclusion, would wipe a potential $5tn (£4tn) from global GDP by 2030.

“As policymakers work to protect and rebuild economies, their response must account for the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women, and the unique roles women will have to play in mitigating the pandemic’s harm,” Gates said in a paper published on Wednesday.

Globally, a two-hour increase in women’s unpaid care work corresponds with a 10 percentage point decrease in women’s ability to participate in the labour force, she said.

“I think, finally, for the first time, this unpaid labour, which has been one of the biggest cracks in society that no one wants to look at, is in everybody’s face right now.

“World leaders have kids at home right now. World leaders are seeing their wives have to drop out of the workforce or take care of an elderly parent. So I think leaders are waking up to this, and what I think you’re going to see is the coalition of leaders who say: ‘This is how we’re going to get recovery – we’re going to get recovery if we start to get equality,’” she said.

Gates’ paper, published in Foreign Affairs magazine prior to the G20 meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors at the weekend, looks at the toll the pandemic is taking on women and calls on policymakers to “use this emergency as an opportunity to replace old systems with new and better ones”.

As well as addressing unpaid care, Gates called for women’s jobs to be protected, for health systems to be strengthened, and for sexual and reproductive healthcare to be considered an essential service.

Key to any fundamental change, Gates said, will be the inclusion of women from diverse backgrounds in decision-making. Grassroots organisations also have a “fundamental” role to play, she said.

But Gates warned: “We have to keep this on the forefront of the agenda. That’s exactly why I wrote this paper. If we don’t look at the health systems, the economic systems and how we can build back, if we don’t look at the data or the female leadership or use those women’s collectives, we’re not going to build back in a better way. We’re going to have a very, very long slow recovery across the globe.”

Further reading:

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Forget Gareth Cliff, a constitutional law expert shares views on alcohol ban, curfew

Whatever your views on the alcohol ban and curfew, this is the opinion on the potential constitutionality or otherwise of the latest lockdown regulations. It is unfortunate that the irresponsible actions of a minority have deprived the majority of South Africans, who have maturely observed the rules and patiently waited for each small concession, of yet more of our freedom. But we are curious as to whatever happened to the original high court judgment declaring the lockdown regulations unconstitutional.

Reprinted from iol.com, by Sihle Mlambo – 2020-07-14

Alcohol traders remain closed after the government announced on Sunday night that the alcohol ban would be reinstated.     Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Alcohol traders remain closed after the government announced on Sunday night that the alcohol ban would be reinstated. Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of an immediate ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol sent social media into a tailspin on Sunday night, with outraged citizens bemoaning that they had not been given notice to stock up ahead of the ban.

In enforcing the ban, Ramaphosa scolded South Africans who have been hosting parties, contravening lockdown regulations and contributing to the spread of the coronavirus which has now killed over 4 100 people and infected over 280 000 people since March.

On Tuesday controversial media personality Gareth Cliff added his voice to the mix, describing government’s decision to ban the sale of alcohol and instituting a curfew between 9pm and 4am as “bullsh**”.

“He goes on TV this president, willy-nilly and makes rules. He sits with his national coronavirus command council and they go ‘ah I think we need to ban alcohol’ and they decide among themselves and that’s it.

“Then he says there is a curfew and you can’t visit your family. Bullsh**. You do not get to decide for free people in a free country whether they can see their mother or father, brother or sister or their children, you don’t get to do that.

“And any government that tries to do that, even if they say it’s for health reasons, it’s a tyrannical state that is trying to control your behaviour,” said Cliff.

We asked constitutional law expert Professor Pierre De Vos to comment on Cliff’s rant, and he declined, describing him as irrelevant and his rant as ridiculous.

Writing on his blog, Constitutionally Speaking, De Vos shared his views on the rationality of the contentious decisions taken by the Ramaphosa administration on Sunday.

He was sharing his opinion based on how he felt the courts would rule on the matters if the ban on the sale of alcohol or the curfew faced a legal challenge.

ALCOHOL

On the alcohol ban, De Vos said based on the rising Covid-19 cases and the increasing number of people being admitted to hospital, it was likely a rational decision in the eyes of the court.

He argued, however, that the decision to stop the sale of alcohol during level 5 of the lockdown – when cases were low – could be invalid and also contributed to the backlash the government was now facing from the public.

“Arguably, the ban on the sale of liquor during level 5 lockdown when confirmed cases were low and hospitals were close to empty, was not necessary to deal with the destructive effects of Covid-19 and may have been invalid.

“The level 5 ban may also have been a strategic mistake as it may have contributed to the public hardening of attitudes towards the lockdown, thus turning a public health emergency into a matter of law and order in the eyes of the public. But given the general deference shown by our courts to lockdown regulations, it is not clear that the courts would have invalidated the ban,” said De Vos.

De Vos said it would be difficult to argue against the alcohol ban.

“It would be difficult to argue that the ban on the sale of liquor is not necessary to deal with the destructive effects of Covid-19.

“The ban is clearly authorised by the Disaster Management Act and as long as it is rationally related to the purpose of the declaration of the disaster, it will be valid. I would be surprised if a court found that there was no rational connection between the ban and the aim of freeing up hospital beds better to deal with the medical consequences of Covid-19,” he said.

CURFEW 

De Vos said due to the dire situation in which the country found itself, it would be difficult to argue against the need for a curfew as it curtailed those who hosted parties from doing so.

“I will assume the purpose of the curfew is to stop socialisation of people at night (as such socialisation will allow the virus to spread faster), and additionally to make it easier for the police to enforce the other lockdown regulations.

“The former is an important and pressing purpose while the latter is not. This must be weighed up against the impact that the imposition of the curfew will have on members of the public. Clearly, a curfew radically curtails an individual’s freedom of movement and would only be justified in extreme cases.

“The state would have to show that other measures that are less invasive of citizen’s rights are not available to achieve the purpose. I am not sure they will be able to do so, but, once again, given the deferential attitude of most courts towards the government imposed lockdown restrictions, I am not as confident as I would normally be that a challenge to the curfew would be successful,” he said.

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It is ‘all men’, to varying degrees: men’s violence against women is a systemic crisis

This article was written by the executive director of White Ribbon Australia, part of a global social movement working to eliminate gendered violence. Replace “Australia” with “South Africa” and everything he says is equally true of our society. Inequality is so deeply embedded structurally that men and women alike see nothing wrong with mother-in-law jokes or quips about women drivers. For every man who says, “But I’m not like that; I respect women,” this article is for you. Most of us do not behave violently towards women, but, “We have been taught – either subtly or overtly – that because of our gender we deserve a special kind of respect.” Let this be a wake-up call. 

Reprinted from the Guardian, by Brad Chilcott – 2020-0-07

As White Ribbon’s new executive director, I believe it’s worth mobilising the movement towards meaningful action

Handgesture - Stop violence against women
 WRA executive director Brad Chilcott: ‘We need to take ownership of the ways we create the environment that allows men to believe they are entitled to a greater share of power in society and relationships.’ Photograph: Golib Golib Tolibov/Alamy Stock Photo

“Why?” has been the most consistent response when I’ve told my progressive friends that I’ve taken on the role of executive director of White Ribbon Australia for its next chapter. They didn’t miss the organisation that had first become publicly synonymous with ending family violence and then famous for problematic ambassadors and financial ruin. As a volunteer White Ribbon supporter myself, I agreed with much of the criticism – and yet I continue to believe it’s worth mobilising the tens of thousands of Australians who constitute the White Ribbon movement towards meaningful action.

Gender inequality is structural violence. It creates the space for acts of gendered violence by normalising disrespect as it socialises the idea that one gender is more valuable or capable than another.

It is clear that men’s violence against women is an ongoing systemic crisis – from the murder of more than one woman a week, to Australian police responding to family violence once every two minutes, to the sexual harassment experienced by women in the workplace – and when we know that approximately 80% of women who experience violence don’t report their abuse we begin to comprehend the vast scale of this emergency.

Gendered violence begins with the idea that you are entitled to obedience, sex, authority or a different set of freedoms because you are a man. That you have the intrinsic right to treat someone else in a way that you would not be treated. It is expressed in coercive control – exerting power over your partner’s finances, social life, clothing, career or otherwise reducing their individual agency.

I grew up in a religious environment that taught that men were the head of the house, that women couldn’t perform certain rituals, weren’t able to teach men or take leadership positions. When I was a child, my default image of engineers, pilots, football players and prime ministers was male. I said “policeman” instead of “police officer” and assumed my doctors would be men and my nurses would be women.

None of these things automatically turn me into a man who uses violence in my intimate relationships. But they demonstrate that many men in Australia – religious and otherwise – have been raised in cultures that share a history of entrenched gender inequality. We have been taught – either subtly or overtly – that because of our gender we deserve a special kind of respect. We have been raised with a certain expectation of male power and to have control of our homes, partners, children, faith communities, sporting clubs and workplaces. To believe that men have a right to decide what happens to women’s bodies.

Many of us have had this perspective role modelled to us, and indeed have seen the violence – whether physical violence, emotional manipulation, sexual exploitation or spiritual abuse – that men have used to dominate, control and harm women. We have seen men desperate to hold on to their power as they grow insecure in a changing society. We might say that not all misogyny leads to violence but that all violence starts with misogyny.

So yes, “all men”, to varying degrees. Therefore, our first responsibility in responding to this national crisis is to reflect on our own beliefs and attitudes, our culturally acquired perception of gender norms and to consider and change the ways these translate into our behaviour. We need to take ownership of the ways we create the environment that allows men to believe they are entitled to a greater share of power in society and relationships – and often exercise that power to harm others.

The abuse of power is violence – whatever form that takes.

If you’re monitoring your partner’s phone, telling them what they’re allowed to wear, if they have to ask your permission to spend time with friends or family – that’s not equality, it’s an abuse of power.

If, because you’re a man, you think you have the right to be obeyed, to make all the decisions, to be the head of a house, to have an unequal share of power – or indeed to be paid more, have more social freedoms, that your opinion is more important – then you are promoter of gender inequality. If you use any form of coercive control over your partner to enforce that privilege, then you’re a perpetrator of gendered violence.

How do we respond? Perhaps understanding that aspiring to be a good male role model is about much more than controlling aggression. It’s a man who is willing to listen and learn. Who is aware of their power and privilege – and chooses to utilise them towards cultural and political change. It’s someone who is determined to share power in their relationships and hold on to their privilege loosely, knowing we all benefit when everyone is equally valued, included and given the opportunity to flourish.

In some quarters it seems controversial to say that men have a role to play in eliminating gendered violence and advancing gender equality. What is certainly problematic is placing men on a pedestal for not using violence or not acknowledging the decades of tireless campaigning by women that built the foundation of awareness and positive change that male advocates stand on today. However, as it is men that need to stop being violent and to break the cycle of generational misogyny, they must be part of the solution.

Certainly, the men who hold on to the majority of the political power in Australia have not responded to the terror and suffering experienced by women in Australia in a manner commensurate to the crisis, nor with the magnitude of money and commitment expended on their self-identified priorities. A willingness to listen to and learn from women – and then act not only decisively but also proportionately – would go a long way towards creating safety for women now and pave the way for equality into the future.

 Brad Chilcott is executive director of White Ribbon Australia

Links added by SD Law.

Contact Family Lawyers Cape Town for help

As family lawyers, our job is to protect the vulnerable members of a family. Both women and children are at risk from structural gendered violence. If you are experiencing gendered violence, whether physical abuse, emotional manipulation, or coercive control, Cape Town Divorce Attorneys can help. We now offer online consultations. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email  simon@sdlaw.co.za today, and we’ll call you back to schedule a meeting at a time that suits you, on the platform of your choosing.

Important contact numbers:

GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / *120*7867# from any cell phone
Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150
Childline: 0800 055 555
SAPS Crime Stop: 0860 10111 / SMS Crime Line: 32211
GBVF-related service complaints (SAPS): 0800 333 177/complaintsnodalpoint@saps.gov.za

Further reading:

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Five urgent and effective measures to curb the abuse of alcohol

Last week we shared some sentiments from Les Da Chef about the causes of gender-based violence in South Africa. While acknowledging the role alcohol plays in domestic abuse, he expressed his view that violence against women in our culture has much deeper roots than alcohol abuse alone, a view we share. But that doesn’t mean that alcohol isn’t a factor that needs to be addressed, along with other determinants such as the socialisation of boys. We wholeheartedly support this initiative from the DG Murray Trust, recommending that the SA Government adopt the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an effort to curb alcohol abuse, as one means of getting gender-based violence under control.

Reprinted from DGMT.co.za. 2020-06-10

In his speech to the nation on Wednesday 17 June 2020, President Ramaphosa stated that, “we will also need to look at further, more drastic measures to curb the abuse of alcohol”.  We now call on the government to draw on the best international evidence, follow the advice of the World Health Organisation and implement those measures which have been shown to be effective in other countries.

These measures are to:

  1. Ban advertising of alcohol (except on the site of sale, where it should not be visible to those under 18 years).
  2. Increase the price of alcohol, both through excise taxes and by introducing a minimum price per unit of pure alcohol in liquor products.
  3. Reduce the legal limit for drinking and driving to a blood alcohol content of 0.02% or below.
  4. Reduce the availability of alcohol, especially in residential areas (by limiting the density of liquor outlets, shorter trading hours, and ending the sale of alcohol in larger containers like 1-litre bottles of beer).
  5. Intensify the availability of counselling and medically assisted treatment for persons struggling with dependence.

The extent of alcohol abuse and its link with violent crime is without equal in Africa and should be a source of deep shame to all South Africans. “There is a dire need to protect women and children from alcohol-associated harm”, says Dr Glenda Gray, President of the South African Medical Research Council”.

This view is shared by all signatories below. “It is now time to put the rights of women and children first – those who are, or will become victims of harmful use of alcohol, and there is global evidence of what needs to be done now.” says Dr David Harrison, CEO of the DG Murray Trust. “While social drinkers may feel that price increases and other restrictions are unfair on them, it is time to face up to what ‘unfair’ really means for women and children. We reiterate the President’s view that if we don’t act, we are all complicit in these crimes.”

Although only a third of adult South Africans drink alcohol, 60% of those who drink, binge-drink (more than 5.4 standard drinks per day). Binge-drinking is strongly associated with interpersonal violence, motor vehicle accidents and risk-taking behaviour. The measures described above have been shown to significantly reduce the societal harm of alcohol. The World Health Organisation and comparative studies across the world have shown that banning of advertising, limiting consumption through higher prices and reducing the legal drink-driving limits and the availability of alcohol are all highly cost-effective measures.

These measures must be supported by other interventions shown to be effective, including raising the legal drinking age to nineteen years and enforcement of public drinking by-laws.  Furthermore, we need to ensure that product tracking and tracing is in place to close the supply routes to illegal vendors. These provisions are included in the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill. We call on the government to proceed with the implementation of this Bill and other stalled legislation aimed at reducing alcohol harm such as the Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill.

Signatories

Prof Glenda Gray,  President
Prof Charles Parry
South African Medical Research Council

Prof Richard Matzopoulos,
South African Medical Research Council and UCT School of Public Health

Prof Lukas Muntingh
Dr Laurine Platzky
Ms Undere Deglon
Ms Lizanne Venter
Members of the Board of the Western Cape Liquor Authority

Dr David Harrison, CEO
Ms Carol-Ann Foulis                                                                                                                                                   DG Murray Trust

Ask for help

SD Law has always been outspoken against gender-based violence. We have helped women escape abusive relationships and we can help you secure a protection order or escape a narcissistic partner. As family lawyers, the interests of you and your children are our first priority.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za to discuss your case in complete confidence. If you can’t get out, or prefer not to, we now offer online consultations. We’ll call you back, to schedule a meeting at a time that suits you, on the platform of your choosing

Further reading:

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Give responsibly – make sure your food parcels reach those in need

Various organisations will make sure your food donation reaches the people in need

As we contend with rising incidence of COVID-19 in South Africa (though still thankfully much lower than our European and North and South American counterparts) and the restrictions of lockdown, World Hunger Day, which took place on 28 May, has passed us by, more or less unnoticed. Yet COVID-19 – or rather, the economic fall-out from lockdown – is causing hunger in South Africa on an unprecedented scale. Many people want to do what they can, despite their own challenges, to help those most in need. How can you give responsibly?

Because we have a history of corruption in this country, it can be tempting to bypass the intermediaries and give food directly to those who need it. Some people are doing just that – cooking and taking hot meals to the homeless. While their intentions are laudable and there is no doubt their hearts are in the right place, we would encourage you rather to contribute to organised efforts and give responsibly.

Why donate through a relief organisation?

Channelling your philanthropic activities through an authorised relief organisation has multiple benefits. Firstly, they are taking proper infection control precautions. This not only protects the recipients; it protects you and your household. Secondly, they are working with community leaders to ensure food is distributed to those truly in need. And they are putting together food parcels designed to give a family not only enough food for a given period, but a sufficiently nutritious and balanced diet. Pap alone may be filling but does not provide adequate nutrients.

Where can you give responsibly?

Many relief organisations are well placed to put together the food parcels, and need funds rather than food. Others welcome groceries and other items. You should be able to find an organisation near you that will welcome the type of help you want to offer. 

Many Woolworth’s stores have set up a facility to allow customers to purchase extra non-perishable goods and place the items in a collection trolley on their way out of the store. This is a particularly nice way to help, if you can’t afford to do much but want to do something. A few tins of beans or carton of UHT milk added to your weekly shop won’t make your grocery bill unmanageable.  

Thanks to Eyewitness News for providing the following information. These organisations connect donors to local food relief groups around the country:

FoodForwardSA
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– Donate here.

The Angel Network
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– You can donate via their website.

CoronaCare for South Africa
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info on how to donate here.

Islamic Relief
– Area: national
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info can be found on their website.

Ladles of Love
– Area: Cape Town
– Donations needed: monetary, loaves of peanut butter and jam sandwiches
– More info: You can donate via PayFast or contact them on 076 064 3694.

These organisations are local to the Western Cape:

The Sprightly Seed
– Areas: Lavender Hill, Nyanga East, Mfuleni, Kalkfontein and Mitchell’s Plain
– Distributing food and hygiene packs to 450 families
– Donations needed: monetary
– For more info, go their givengain account.

The Mahabbah Foundation
– Areas: throughout Cape Town where help is needed
– Distributing 2000 loaves of bread with jam daily
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info: 082 468 7484

Ramzi’s Food
– Areas: throughout the Cape Flats and Brooklyn
– Catering company transformed into a community kitchen feeding over 1000 people daily
– Donations needed: monetary and groceries
– More info: 072 387 8622

Noordhoek Group:
– Areas: collecting for Masiphumelele families
– Boiled eggs and sandwiches can be dropped off at The Foodbarn Deli at the Farm Village (Noordhoek) on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Kensington Neighbourhood Watch
– Areas: Kensington and Factreton
– Distributing food and hygiene packs to households
– Donations needed: monetary, food and sanitary items
– More info: 060 991 1425

Warriors of Hope
– Areas: Bonteheuwel
– Distributing hot food to households
– Donations needed: monetary
– More info, go to their Facebook account.

Restaurant Foliage
– Areas: Franschhoek and surrounds
– Restaurant turned into a community kitchen providing hot meals daily
– Donations needed: monetary and groceries
– More info: You can donate on the Isabelo website.

Nakhlistan
– Areas: throughout Cape Town
– Distributing hot meals daily
– Donations needed: monetary
– Find more info on their Facebook page.

Share your information with us

If you know of other organisations, restaurants or grocery retailers helping to feed the hungry during this period, let us know and we will update this article. Let’s all give responsibly!

Furthermore, with winter upon us in full force, please share any information about where to donate blankets and warm clothing. You can contact Simon at SD Law on 086 099 5146 or email simon@sdlaw.co.za

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