In the most senior government statement on the issue to date, the Cabinet has condemned the epidemic of ‘corrective rapes’ of lesbian women in South Africa.

The message was conveyed to journalists on Tuesday by government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi at a briefing following a Cabinet meeting.

“Cabinet condemns the senseless and brutal acts of criminality that have been coined ‘corrective rape’,” said Manyi, reports SAPA.

“Perpetrators who are found guilty will be met with the full might of the law.”

He added: “Society as a whole has been intolerant of these kinds of activities, and they keep getting reported, so I think in partnership with the community at large, police will win (the fight against) this ‘corrective rape’ scourge.”

According to Manyi, Cabinet ministers were assured by the police and the justice department that they are “working hard” on the issue.

Activists have criticised the government for the slow response to the crisis in which lesbian women are raped, and sometimes murdered, in an attempt to “make them straight”.

In March, Human Rights Watch called on the South African government to take a stand against the ongoing attacks on lesbians and to issue a public statement.

The cases that have been reported and made it to the courts have been characterised by inefficient, insensitive and inept investigation and prosecution.

In July, a ‘hate-crime’ task team led by the department of Justice and Constitutional Development, working with LGBT activists and other government bodies, was set up but it appears to be bogged down in administrative processes and has thus-far taken no action.

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