Should a special court be established to deal with gender-based violence (GBV) cases?
This was what Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) president Julius Malema asked a candidate vying for the chairpersonship of the Electoral Court at the Judicial Service Commission on Wednesday.
"There is a war on women. When we wake up, we don't ask if a woman was raped; we ask how many have been raped; that is how abnormal we have become. We have become a sick society of how many women have been killed, not [about] whether a woman has been killed already.
"A war has been declared already. Have we not reached a point where a special court must be established to deal with these matters in a manner that will give confidence to society and send a strong message to the perpetrators to ensure that the country has moved from talking into action?" Malema asked Judge Baratang Constance Mocumie, a Supreme Court of Appeal judge.
Malema also pointed out that in the past, travellers mentioned late statesman Nelson Mandela but that today, the country is known for rape and gender-based violence.
"I agree with you, totally. There should be that kind of move and we should say so openly," she said.
She also mentioned that Justice Minister Ronald Lamola had opened a court in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal where specialised magistrates deal with domestic violence and family-related matters, including gender-based violence (GBV).
Mocumie told the JSC about her research on GBV at universities, which focused on the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, the University of Limpopo and the University of Zululand.
She said she wanted to understand why rape happens at universities when "it (university) is supposed to be teaching you how to be better".
"How do you not protect young women who are there? We need to be doing more work.
"I say to students, you can't be toyi-toying all the time. You can't be doing what the NGOs are doing. You have to challenge the legislature and say, these laws are not tight, this is how we want them tighter."
But Mocumie added that there should be a balance when dealing with GBV cases, and pointed out that perpetrators also have rights and that "society can appreciate we are not breaking that person".
A first offender from a broken home would need to be rehabilitated, she explained.
Turning to the Electoral Court, she said it was becoming a specialised court but was not as independent as other courts. "One even tends to forget about it. It is just sitting there on its own. My view is that when appointed, I will be able to bring in the strengths of those sitting on the Bench," she said.