Trying to score political points from the murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen would be disrespectful to rape victims, DA leader Helen Zille said on Monday.
"Anyone who wants to turn this into a party political battle is being disrespectful to the millions of rape survivors in South Africa and particularly those who have lost their lives to this scourge," she said at an anti-rape protest outside Parliament.
Her comments came after Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman was criticised for using Booysen's funeral at the weekend to attack the Democratic Alliance.
The Cape Argus reported that Fransman told mourners that community safety MEC "Dan Plato is a criminal, he used taxpayers' money to throw a party for gangsters... you can't give money to gangsters and think it would solve the problem".
Zille agreed with other critics that the comments were inappropriate.
She said rape was a societal and not a political issue.
"Every individual needs to get involved, the government, the opposition, all the NGO's, every family... the criminal justice system has the primary functions, but none of us is exempt," said Zille.
Asked why Booysen's case had received so much attention while many other brutal rapes and murders occurred across the country, Zille said the gruesome nature of the teenager's murder had angered many.
"The fact that Anene's injuries were so horrific that she had her intestines taken out, left for dead, both legs broken and then survived to get to three hospitals who tried to save her... that particular unbelievable ordeal has also galvanised society."
Zille said the country had progressive laws to protect women and children, but that implementation was sorely lacking.
"Currently there's a terrible adage that men rape because they can and most of them get away with it."
Zille said this was as a result of very few rapists being arrested and even fewer being convicted.
"What we need to start with is the knowledge that any person who rapes must know that they will be reported, that they will be tried, and that they will be convicted."
Several other protesters joined Zille holding up placards calling for an end to rape.
While some called for the criminal justice system to work better, others had more drastic proposals for dealing with rapists.
"If I get him, I will kill him because I also have daughters... I grew up seeing these things and the children see it and we must prevent it," a woman from Ravensmead, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Sapa.
Two men accused of the rape and murder are expected to appear in the Bredasdorp Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.