‘One person is one too many’

2019-09-10 06:01
Briony Apollis (53) from Heinz Park.

Briony Apollis (53) from Heinz Park.

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The community members of Heinz Park in Mitchell’s Plain say “enough is enough”.

The community, along with the non-profit organisation Ilitha Labantu, picketed against gender-based violence on Friday 6 September.

This follows a spate of killings of women and children, including the murder of 14-year-old Janika Mallo. ­Her half-naked body was found on Sunday 1 September in her grandmother’s backyard in Heinz Park.

Other recent murders include that of the University of Cape Town (UCT) student Uyinene Mrwetyana as well as Jess Hess, a theology student from the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Hess and her grandfather were found dead in their apartment in Parow, while Mwetyana was allegedly murdered at the Clareinch Post Office in Claremont.

One of the picketers, Zikhona Mzimkulu (26) from Heinz Park, said things had gotten worse in the community.

“If you rape, we want the death penalty. We don’t want life sentences or bail. We want the death penalty.”

Mzimkulu said if President Cyril Ramaphosa did not assist with the situation, the community would take matters into their own hands.

“No bail for rapists and killers. Enough is enough,” she said.

Rose Klaassen (74), a community worker and resident of Heinz Park, said they were tired.

“This is the last time one of our girls or women is murdered. We are heartbroken about everything that has happened,” she said.

Klaassen believed the protests will make a difference.

“It could have been my child too. We need to stand up and stand together to make a difference because these murders happen every day,” she said.

Sesethu Guphethuka (22) from Khayelitsha said she attended the picket in support of women and children. The 22-year-old said she was living in fear.

“We should be able to walk freely and live freely but we can’t,” she said. Guphethuka said she was scared to leave her home.

Briony Apollis (53) addressed the crowd on Friday and said the community needed to work together. She said there’s a death almost every day in Heinz Park.

“It is disgusting,” she said. “We don’t get support from the police. I’ve gone to the police station so many times and they say they are coming, but they never do,” she said.

The way the community was being treated wasn’t right, she added.

Siyabulela Monakali, communications officer of the organisation, said violence against women should not only be highlighted during Women’s Month and 16 days of Activism.

“Gender-based violence is not time-bound. It is a daily occurrence and we should not be selective about when we address the issue,” said Monakali.

“It shouldn't take one incident for the country to come to a standstill because this is a day-to-day issue,” he said.

Monakali said they wanted communities to take action and for men to take responsibility for their behaviour.

He said violence against women had become normalised and was deeply embedded in society.

“We should look at what factors are bred in society.”

He said young girls were being raped and women murdered every day. “One person is one too many,” he said.

Ilitha Labantu has been active in South Africa for more than 30 years.

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