CAPE TOWN, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday added his voice to the chorus of condemnation against the ruthless killing of eight women.
"Such outrageous and inhuman action against defenceless women is a gross violation of the right to human life as enshrined in the Constitution," Zuma said.
The eight women, who belonged to one family, were killed in Embangweni Village near Greytown in KwaZulu-Natal Province on Tuesday night when unknown gunmen stormed two family homes a few meters apart and opened fire. The killers then doused the houses with petrol and set them alight.
The motive for the killing is unknown and details regarding the murder remain sketchy.
Zuma reiterated that violence against women has been declared a priority crime by the government.
Many perpetrators are being caught and are given long jail terms due to the cooperation of the public by coming forward with information, the president said.
"All forms of violence against women, children and the elderly should never be tolerated in our society," said Zuma.
South Africa has been gripped by a surge of killing of women and children this year.
In May, a three-year-old girl was raped and murdered by a family friend in Cape Town. It followed the murder of a teenage girl by her boyfriend in Johannesburg after a heated argument.
Since the beginning of this year, about 30 female killings have taken place in South Africa, shocking the nation that has been already plagued by rampant crimes.
South Africa has among the highest rates in the world for the rape and murder of women.
Statistics show that a woman is killed every eight hours in South Africa. More than 1,000 women are killed by intimate partners each year.
Intimate partner femicide, which is the most serious form of domestic violence, is the leading cause of the murder of women in South Africa.
A study by the South African Medical Research Council showed that the vast majority of female homicides went unpunished, with less than 38 percent of intimate-partner femicides leading to conviction in less than two years.