We are in a crisis, no one is safe – Shabangu on abuse against women

2017-05-26 16:34
Susan Shabangu (Beeld)

Susan Shabangu (Beeld)

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WATCH: Soweto residents stand up against women abuse

2017-05-26 12:16

South Africans gathered outside the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus to stand up against gender-based violence on Friday morning. WATCH

Johannesburg - Women no longer feel safe in SA and unless communities come together to protect one another, the scourge against women will continue, Minister of Women Susan Shabangu said on Friday.

Speaking at Regina Mundi Church in Soweto following a #NotInMyName march led by men, Shabangu told those gathered at the church that they needed to act as a community, and not live in their individual silos.

"We need to be a community, we need to care. The scourge we are facing is getting worse, South Africa is under siege. There is evil. There is a devil who is here in South Africa. We are in a crisis and no one is safe."

Shabangu said gender-based violence would not be solved by women alone and encouraged the men who had marched to go out and encourage their friends to join the #NotInMyName campaign to ensure that it had the desired effect.

She also encouraged men to be more involved and to take part in the annual campaign of 16 days of activism for violence against women and children.

'It cuts you'

As a mother, one could not help but feel the pain of others as news of more girls being found dead surfaced, she said.

"As a mother, it cuts you - even if it isn't your own daughter - hearing about all this cuts you. So you have to, as a parent, stand up and do something.

"If it hasn't reached you yet, fight it. Let's hold hands. Let's change our attitudes; let's care; let's have humanity. Stand up so it doesn't get to you," she said.

More than a hundred people took to Chris Hani Road on Friday morning, alongside Shabangu, government officials and religious leaders to march against the abuse of women and children.

Marchers with the messages "Respect Us!!! #ItsThatSimple", "WHY?", "Stop killing us" and "Love us don't kill us" were held up high as they marched and sang their way to the church.

One of the men who had decided to join the march was 34-year-old Molapo resident Floyd Mehlomakhulu.

He was marching to prove to women in Soweto that not all men were the same.

"We've had enough with people who are terrorising our women," he told News24.


He said it did not sit well with him that women felt afraid of men, especially since he worked with them in his dreadlock hair care business.

"I work with women mostly, and even when I try to approach them they back away and get scared and ask me: 'What do you want?' It affects us men in many ways and makes us scared of approaching them, even when it's just about work."

As a result, he had decided to bring his colleagues along, to show women in the society that they supported their calls for an end to the violence. He wanted the arm of the law to be harsher when it came to perpetrators.

"I want the law to tighten its grip on them. As a woman, you have carried me for nine months; you gave me life so why would I terrorise you?

"That's the problem I have with men: We are cowards; we can no longer speak for ourselves; we turn to violence. Please let's stop this," he said.

Another man who had decided to join the march, former Generations actor Mangaliso Ngema said one thing men needed to admit was that they were not as good at talking about their problems, as women were. This needed to change, he said.

"When we as men get together we always talk about everything, but the things that are important in our lives. Men are suffering because men do not talk, we do not share our problems with one another."

Restraining order

He encouraged men to start forming groups where they could meet and discuss their problems with their peers in a safe and comfortable space, to try and resolve the underlying factors which could be leading to acts of violence.

"Because what we are doing is not in our culture. African men respect their women," he said.

In 2014, Channel24 reported that Ngema's estranged wife obtained a restraining order amid claims of physical abuse. The matter went to court but it was not immediately clear what the outcome of the case was.

Nontsika Kwinana, 21, from Dube had joined the march to make sure she was counted as one of many women in Soweto who had had enough with the spate of violence against women and children.

"It's too much. Women and children are being killed every day. Enough is enough; we have to stand up because we don't know who is next; so we have to stop whatever is going on because it is getting out of control."

Seeing men leading the march was encouraging, she said.

Read more on:    susan shabangu  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  gender rights

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