Shabangu clarifies 'weak' Karabo comment

2017-05-24 16:03
Susan Shabangu (Beeld)

Susan Shabangu (Beeld)

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Cape Town – Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu was trying to say murdered Karabo Mokoena was "vulnerable" when she called her "weak".

Mokoena, like many women, was simply in a relationship that ultimately led to her death, Shabangu told journalists at Parliament on Wednesday.

"I just wanted to say, Karabo was vulnerable. Karabo was in a relationship where she thought it would work for her, but it led to her unfortunate death."

She was asked to clarify comments she made on Tuesday. Shabangu told eNCA's weekly investigative current affairs programme Checkpoint that the 22-year-old part-time student came across strong, but was "weak and hence she became a victim of abuse".

The DA called on her to retract the "callous" remark and apologise to the Mokoena family.

Mokoena's murder was an indication of how certain men felt they had the right to assault women, she said.

"One of the responsibilities of government and society as a whole is to make sure there is a change of attitude.

"You cannot mobilise one sector of the community, that is women. You also have to change the attitude of men, to accept that women are not punching bags, or objects. I thought it was important for me to mention that [on Checkpoint]."

Mokoena was a strong woman, who came across strongly and was counselling other women, Shabangu said.

DA MP Zak Mbhele on Wednesday said Shabangu should have retracted her comments and apologised, and failing to do so meant she should be fired.

"Even despite being prompted to apologise by journalists, the minister still failed to apologise unreservedly.

"It is horrific that Minister Shabangu continues to blame the victims of abuse and violence for the fate they face. She is setting a terrible example for South Africa, and must be roundly condemned."

Sexual advances by leaders 'unacceptable'

Shabangu said it was unacceptable for government leaders to make sexual advances towards younger women. She was responding to a question about Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe asking a 29-year-old GCIS employee to send him naked pictures of herself.

She also defended her department's record in speaking out against the rise in highly-publicised murders of women this year.

They have done work on the ground, that was not covered by the media until now, she claimed.

She welcomed three portfolio committees – police, justice, and women - joining to debate the issue at a special meeting.

"They also have a role to play and identifying gaps. It's not meeting just for the sake of meeting. We have to reflect on the mechanisms we have as government. The president has said we need to go back to our laws and look at the drawing board."

Shabangu said it was important to acknowledge that the fractious relationship between men and women "did not start today".

She said patriarchal systems needed to be overhauled, and the only way to do that was to acknowledge the realities women faced. From there, women could gain strength.

More than one government department and society as a whole needed to change the attitudes towards gender violence.

She was encouraged by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula's plans to ensure women who wanted to report abuse at police stations were not turned away.

She would work with all government departments to help fix the situation.

Read more on:    da  |  susan shabangu  |  karabo mokoena  |  abuse

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