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Police march against gender-based violence

In a sea of blue, police officers at the Pretoria rally held up signs reading 'It hurts us as police officers to pick up bodies of women, children and vulnerable groups on a daily basis'.

SAPS members march against gender-based violence in Pretoria on 14 October 2019. Picture: @SAPoliceService/Twitter

PRETORIA - More than a thousand police officers marched against gender-based violence in South Africa's capital Pretoria on Monday after a surge in murders and sexual crimes against women.

There has been a rising outcry against sexist violence in the country over the last two months after a series of murders that shocked the public.

In a sea of blue, police officers at the Pretoria rally held up signs reading "It hurts us as police officers to pick up bodies of women, children and vulnerable groups on a daily basis".

Acting national police commissioner Bonang Mgwenya told the gathered officers that gender-based violence was in "a dire state of emergency".

"We need an urgent shift that will govern the impact and outcomes of our concerted progressive resolutions," she said.

The hashtag #AmINext started trending in South Africa as more than 30 women were killed last month, among them a student from Cape Town who was raped and killed in a post office.

Police statistics released on the weekend showed that the number of crimes involving sexual offences jumped 4.6% from April 2018 to March 2019, compared with the same period the previous financial year.

Sexual offences detected as a result of police action - instead of women reporting the crime - rose 19%, the statistics said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has said South Africa is "the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman" has announced an emergency plan to stop the surge in violence against women.