It is sad that we still need the annual international campaign 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence (GBV), to challenge violence against women and girls. 

The global campaign was first started in 1991, 30 years ago, by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute.

The campaign starts on  25 November and runs until 10 December, which is International Human Rights Day. This year’s theme is “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”

Unfortunately South Africa continues to display some of the most pervasive and extreme levels of GBV. It pervades political, economic and social structures of society, cuts across all divides and impacts all aspects of life. 

The recent crime stats show that not enough is being done to combat this crime. The total number of sexual offences, in just three months from 1 July 2021 to the end of September, increased by 4.7%, There were 9,556 reported rapes. This was a 7.1% increase from the previous year’s second quarter’s 8,922 cases. 

In addition, over 13,000 of the 72,762 cases of assault reported were cases of domestic violence. 

It is unacceptable that these numbers continue to rise. The criminal justice system is failing victims and survivors of GBV. 

This is why Amnesty International South Africa is calling on people to #InterruptGBV and call on the SA Police Service to investigate these matters properly.

Without prosecution there is no deterrent for perpetrators.

In this edition of You(th) for You(th) we share three personal stories of GBV and how they affected the victims as well as their families. All three are still waiting for some sort of justice. 

We need to remember that GBV is not just about the shocking numbers but about the women and girls who have either lost their lives so brutally, or have had their lives changed forever and the families that are left devastated and traumatised.

This is why AISA, for 16 Days of Activism, launched its #NotJustANumber activation at Constitution Hill. Read about what we did, why we are doing it and how you can get involved. 

We also continue to remember the case of Popi Qwabe and Bongeka Phungula.

Let us remember them all, let us say their names and ensure they are #NotJustANumber. 

We hope that you enjoy the sixth edition of our youth newsletter. If you, or anyone you know, would like to be featured in the newsletter or have ideas of what you would like to read about, please send us a one-pager telling us about yourself to

We look forward to hearing from you! Phambili Phezulu (Onwards and upwards!)


Amnesty International South Africa spoke to the families of three women affected by gender-based violence.

The families are still trying to come to terms with what happened to their loved ones and are still waiting for justice.

These are their stories.


Nthabiseng was raped on 15 September 2020. 

The day she had to identify her attackers, it became a problem because the perpetrator looked exactly like his brother and they lived in the same house. Physical statue, facial features, height and skin colour. They were related and lived in the same house.  The family understood that police could not arrest both guys as it could not have been both of them who were involved in the rape crime. 

The agreement this past January was that the police would go and take DNA from both men for comparison. That has not happened until now. It is more than a year now since her rape.

How has this incident affected Nthabiseng?

Her life totally changed as the breadwinner that has to go to work very early and come home late. Since she was raped on her way back home one evening, she has a general sense of being unsafe. Her sister and her children have all not come to terms with her rape.

A message to the SAPS:

Mr President Ramaphosa, we saw you in the company of a charged alleged rapist Steven Bafana Zondo, Minister Bheki Cele, FCS Unit SAPS Police Station, the disappointment we feel with all unresolved cases is enormous. Police need to be retrained. 

I sometimes wonder which world you are living in because had one of these incidents been done to any of you, better services would be served to us.


Thandeka Yawa was walking home from work in Fochville on 20 February 2016 when she was approached by three boys who attacked her from behind.

One of the boys ran away and two boys stayed behind and continued with the brutal attack. They brutally raped her and beat her up badly on her face, they took thorns from a tree and stuck the thorns in her eyes. They continued to take out her teeth and strangled her with a belt, thinking she was dead they left her in the bushes.

She passed out but regained consciousness on the morning of 21 February 2016, she couldn’t even open her eyes due to the thorns in her eyes. She could hear school children passing by on the road next to bushes and tried calling out for help even though she couldn’t scream much due to the strangulation but she persisted until the school children heard her. They found her and started calling for help from the elders and that’s how she was found and taken to the hospital. 

With all of this evidence, the justice system told her she won’t be able to identify her attackers due to the blindness caused by the attack. Even though she knows them still they told her what if these perpetrators deny doing this to her how will she identify them.

A case was opened but it has been four years and nothing has happened, no report back on the progress of the case and no feedback from SA Police Service.

How has this incident affected Thandeka?

She is left totally blind, can’t see her two children, her movement is very limited, she had to move out of her own house and go back to her parents place because she has to be taken care of.

Her parent’s lives are affected health-wise, since they have not come to terms with what has happened to her. Her son has anger issues because he feels like avenging his mom. The daughter cannot do what most people do with their mothers.


Basetsana, the youngest of three girls, was last seen soon after she welcomed in the new year in 2013. 

She was found raped and murdered on the 2 January 2013. She was found half-naked at a nearby field close to her home after her family reported her missing.

The family say every time they inquire about her case they are given no information. According to the police investigations she was strangled to death as her neck was broken. 

How has this incident affected Basetsana’s family?

Her sister says it has been painful. She is the last of three sisters left, her other sister passed away in 2010.

“It was hard for us to face another loss, especially in this way as I was left as the only child. And since then, my father was never the same again because you can imagine what he went through seeing his daughter at a dumping site, lifeless and you try to hold her, but the police don’t even allow that.

“At home we could not sleep, we could not function at all as it was painful. We had high hopes for her as she had just started writing Ekasi dramas that were playing on ETV, and she was building her career in the industry. There were  some stories that she wrote and we had to relive what had happened because I remember it was 15 March when she was meant to win a trophy and some money from ‘Isasholaza’ at the Department of Arts and Culture and then they brought her name saying that they’d like to buy her name so that each year they can have a Basetsana Script Writing Competition in memory of her. It was so emotional when she won all those awards.

“At home, we feel like everything is just so painful because they just ended her dreams as she was starting to live them and act on them.

A message to the SAPS:

“What I can say to the police is that they should help me get closure for my sister. Even with my dad, I think that’s what he wants wherever he is.”

Basetsana’s father passed away in 2014.

“The last word he uttered at the hospital was Basetsana. He called her name constantly until he passed away. He kept saying that he never knew what happened to his child. That happened in 2014, and Basetsana passed away in 2013.”


16 Days of Activism


For the launch of 16 Days of Activism, Amnesty International South Africa in partnership with Constitution Hill, pledged to #InterruptGBV and to remind the world that gender-based violence (GBV) victims and survivors are #NotJustANumber.

To date, over 30,000 people have taken action on the #InterruptGBV campaign, with individuals pledging to disrupt the harmful and social norms perpetuating GBV in the country, whilst also calling for greater accountability from the South African Police Service.

Using chalk art we are compiling a list of names of GBV victims and survivors, at Constitution Square at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg making it clear that they are not just a number.

This is a living action and will be growing daily during the 16 Days of Activism against GBV, from 10am-5pm.

The public is invited to come and add names to the list of GBV victims and survivors so that we ensure they are not forgotten.

If you live in Johannesburg and have the time, stop by Constitution Hill, make a contribution with chalk, take a photo and post it on your social media page tagging @AmnestySAfrica with hashtags #NotJustANumber and #InterruptGBV.

“We need to stop speaking of violence against women as statistics. Each of those women has a name, an identity. Let us find a place to write every single one of their names so they are never forgotten.” 

Former first lady Graça Machel


Have you or someone you know been a victim of GBV?

Type the names of those people or even a message and add it to our board of remembrance.

Lamees Dilman

Buyisiwe Dube

Anneline Titus

Lia Anita Adeline

Bongeka Phungula

Popi Qwabe




Add Names / Message


Amnesty International South Africa’s activist groups have continued activism against gender-based violence (GBV) throughout 2021. Continued activism beyond 16 days is important to ascertain that activism is not only conducted during the campaign, but that people remain active agents that fight against GBV throughout the year. The following are a few GBV activities initiated by AISA’s activist groups in 2021.

AI FH: Justice for Nosicelo

AI FH honored the memory of their fellow student Nosicelo by asking students to donate for the family in preparation for the burial

Connect with AI Fort Hare here

AI UP: Justice for Nosicelo and Queer People

AI UP hosted a activation and a demostration against the murders of queer people as well as facilitating a dialogue among peers on the callanges faced by women and children in South Africa. 

Connect with AI University of Pretoria here

AI Vaal Film Screening

AI Vaal hosted two events “Ringa Ndoda Dialogue” and the Human Rights Film Screening where they facilitated dialogues among community members on GBV and human rights. 

Connect with AI Vaal here

AI CPT: Interrupt the justice system webinar

AI CPT hosted and facilitated a webinar on interrupting the justice system and ensuring that they stand up for GBV victims and called for the justice system to serve people correctly by providing adequate support and protection.

Connect with AI Cape Town Community Chapter here


One Friday night in May 2017, Popi Qwabe and Bongeka Phungula were shot dead and their bodies dumped by the side of the road in Johannesburg. At some point that evening, the pair hailed a minibus taxi and were not heard from again. Following a frantic search at hospitals and police stations, the horrific truth was discovered. Full forensic evidence reports have never been released and the police investigation that followed was, according to the family, riddled with mistakes. They may also have been raped before they were killed. The families claim the police did not check for fingerprints and that the phones belonging to the two girls were never traced. Two suspects who had been apprehended in connection with their deaths were later released and the case was struck off the roll.

In the four years since the murders, no thorough investigation has taken place, leaving the families in the dark with no hope of justice being served.

In 2020, Amnesty International highlighted Popi & Bongeka’s case during the annual Write for Rights campaign, and the investigation into their murders was reopened, bringing their families one step closer to justice. Over 341,000 Amnesty supporters signed the petition to demand this.

The matter is now with the National Prosecuting Authority.



This assembly serves as a debrief of AISA’s operationalisation for the year 2021 and some exciting announcements for the upcoming 2022 year.

This is an annual event and AISA will host it virtually on Zoom on 4 December 2021 at 11am.

Please note that this is a closed event for AISA Supporters and registration is needed beforehand. Please also do not hesitate to contact Rejoyce Makhetha, Activism Coordinator – Organising, at for further details. 


The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites applications for two research assistants to work with the Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit.


Join Amnesty International South Africa during this #16Days for a creative action, at Constitution Square at Constitution Hill from 25 November 2021 until 10 December 2021.

For further information, please feel free to follow @AmnestySAfrica on Twitter, @amnestysafrica on Instagram and/or Amnesty International South Africa on Facebook.



With one woman reportedly being killed every three hours in South Africa there is an urgent need for action from both society and government that focuses on prevention as well as dealing with the root causes that contribute to the culture of violence against women in the country.


This needs to end 


One in every three men in South Africa hold the belief that women should not have the same constitutional rights as men; 7.7% of men think it is alright to hit a woman if she argues with him, and 6% of men think it is alright to hit a woman if she goes out without telling him.

It is harmful norms like these that play a role in perpetuating the country’s culture of violence against women. Such perceptions need to change, and that change starts with us, through the conversations we are having and allowing with friends, family and colleagues, and how we are educating younger generations to respect women.

Be part of the change and pledge to #InterruptGBV. 


I don’t think there is any kind of justice for women in this country

survivor of gender-based violence

The criminal justice system is failing victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

Right now, the conviction rate for crimes of rape is 8.6% due to a high number of cases dropping out of the criminal justice system, and most reported cases never being prosecuted.

The quality of investigations is crucial in securing positive convictions, and this responsibility sits with the South Africa Police Service (SAPS). Yet, too often, basic mistakes such as missing information from dockets, inadequate collection of evidence and missing signatures from complainant statements lead to the decision not to prosecute a case.

Further, due to decades of inadequate training, resources, and accountability, the criminal justice system is largely ineffective, inefficient and insensitive in ensuring all survivors receive the appropriate support when reporting a crime.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has the opportunity to change the current situation by ensuring efficient, effective and fair investigations.

Together we can pressure Minister Bheki Cele to commit to building a South Africa where women feel safe.

Take action and join us in calling on the South African Police Service to CARE.


This is our last edition of YOU(th) for YOU(th) for 2021.

Thank you for your contribution to Amnesty International South Africa and to this newsletter. We look forward to engaging with all of you in the new year.

Please feel free to send us any ideas of what you would like to see in the newsletter in 2022.

Have a safe and happy holiday!!