South Africa’s Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has appealed to police officers to refrain from openly talking to rape victims in front of other people when they report incidents of rape at police stations but to assist them privately.

“If a child arrives at the police station and says I have been raped, she must not be put in the spotlight for everyone to hear what happened to her,” Kubayi told a crowd of about 2 000 people during the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign in Ga-Maria village in Mpumalanga.

“The abuse starts when you just assault a woman in the house. If there is a man who waits for children on the corner on their way to school, that’s abuse. Let us stand up and fight abuse against women and children,” she said.

Kubayi also called on police officers “not to laugh at”, but rather assist men who also reported incidents of abuse they suffered at the hands of their female partners. She urged women to report their abusive husbands or boyfriends to police even if they were the only ones supporting them financially.

“If you say a father is a breadwinner and let us protect him [from the police], he is going to abuse all the children in your home and those of your neighbours,” she said.

The launch was attended by various government departments and other stakeholders, including the communications department and the Mpumalanga community safety department.

South African Police Service (SAPS) Major General Christina Sithole said some men in Mpumalanga were raping children and offering the parents money to keep silent. “You must report these rapes, because the life of a child gets ruined from the day she is raped,” said Sithole.