'Women, fight for your rights', Umlazi pants victim

2008-05-21 00:00

FOR many, Zandile Mpanza, has been the faceless victim who made headlines, after being stripped half naked by fellow neighbours, for wearing pants in Umlazi section 17, almost a year ago.

Yesterday she spoke out in front of an audience for the first time, in a meeting organised by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness, which aimed to unpack the controversy surrounding the recent mini-skirt saga in a Johannesburg taxi rank, as well as the pants saga in Umlazi.

At 25, Mpanza said she knows the shame that comes with being ostracised.

In July last year, she had to walk nearly 500 m, half naked, after her pants were shredded into strips at Umlazi.

Her mother and four-year-old daughter had to watch as she was slapped and kicked around, while her abusers burnt their home to the ground, leaving them with nothing.

“Part of what gives me strength is my belief in God. If it had not been for Lord on my side, I would have been crushed.”

Mpanza said women needed to stop living like “remote controls” and called on them to fight for their rights and country. “What South Africa is this, where men can beat and strip a woman naked, devaluing her of her dignity because she wore pants?”

Mpanza is still battling to have her abusers face the full might of the law, and said the case is far from being resolved.

“Women look me in the eye in court and toyi-toyi for the culprits to be released. Women are supporting the law of no pants.”

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