Deputy President David Mabuza called on citizens to wear a black armband or ribbon as the country’s flag was lowered to half mast to mark the beginning of the five days of mourning for the victims of Covid-19 and gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).
Wednesday, 25 November, also marked the start of 16 Days of Activism against GBVF (also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), which would end on the International Human Rights Day, 10 December.
Giving his speech at the Union Buildings on Wednesday morning, Mabuza emphasised that citizens needed to unite to fight against Covid-19 and GBVF.
He said “These twin epidemics of Covid-19 and gender-based violence and femicide continue to engulf our nation on an unprecedented scale. We have to work together as a nation to fight these pandemics so that we inspire hope, and galvanise the nation towards a common vision of unity, cohesion and shared prosperity”.
Mabuza also expressed reiterated concerns over the steadily rising Covid-19 cases in the country.
“Covid-19 continues to be part of our lives. We should continue to be vigilant, and ensure that we continue adhere to Covid-19 protocols.
“The reported rising number of infections remains a major cause for concern for all of us. We should continue to behave responsibly to save lives, and avoid any possible resurgence of Covid-19 infections that may result in further loss of lives.”
He further called upon the public to support the many families that had lost their relatives due to Covid-19 and GBVF.
“We call on all families, communities and organisations to set up memorial corners where flowers, lit candles and any appropriate form of memorialisation is observed to remember and honour those who have lost their lives.
“We will do this, not only as a sign of solidarity with all the families who have lost their loved ones, but to demonstrate our resilience and collective determination to overcome Covid-19 and the ugly face of gender-based violence and femicide.
“As we share their grief, we call on all our churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and houses of prayer to hold prayer sessions to support surviving families to cope with the loss of their loved ones.”