#SandtonShutdown to JSE: You have the money to stop violence, femicide

Protestors sing outside the JSE. Picture: Sthembiso Lebuso
Protestors sing outside the JSE. Picture: Sthembiso Lebuso

Hundreds of activists marched to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton this morning to demand that big, rich companies help beat gender-based violence and femicide.

The #SandtonShutdown march was organised by the Call-For-Action civil society group. The group called on the JSE to stop keeping quiet and get involved in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.

Mandisa Khanyile, chairperson for the movement, said: “When government told us that they do not have money to put into the fight against gender-based violence and femicide in the country, we told them that there’s a place which is called the richest square mile in Africa, where there’s a lot of money.”

Khanyile said that they marched to the JSE not only to get money but to demand that corporate South Africa take responsibility.

“More than 50% of this country’s population is women and yet they don’t see us. We are invisible to them. They do not allow us to occupy their buildings but they allow toxic masculinity to run rampant,” Khanyile said.

More than 50% of this country’s population is women and yet they don’t see us. We are invisible to them

She added that sexual harassment cases were not taken seriously by corporate South Africa.

“Women are still not paid the same as men. We want it to end. Our bodies are not your crime scene. You are not exempt from this fight. And because you have the money to help fight it, do it,” Khanyile said.

The group handed over a memorandum of demands to the JSE’s CEO, Nicky Newton-King.

The demands included a change in the listing of JSE-listing criteria to include a 2% levy on profits on all listed entities to help fund the fight against gender-based violence and femicide, and that all JSE-listed companies contribute to funding the national strategy plan on gender-based violence and femicide, which is set to launch in November.

King received the memorandum, and thanked the protestors for making their voices heard at the heart of business in the country. She said that she understood the pain.

“I understand the urgency but the issues raised in the memorandum require proper conversation,” Newton-King said.

Sthembiso Lebuso
The street outside the JSE building was lined with posters and placards denouncing the scourge of femicide. Picture: Sthembiso Lebuso

“We need to ensure that the conversation that is happening is one that can actually result in action at the end of the day. We will take the memorandum to the relevant stakeholders within the next seven days. We will have a meeting with the leadership of this movement and business leaders. We will see how we can respond meaningfully and sustainably on issues raised in the memorandum.”

The march follows the recent wave of gender-based violence and femicide cases that have hit the country, including the death of first-year UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town at the hands of a SA post office worker and the killing of four children in Durban by their father.

Sthembiso Lebuso
Protesters seen from the steps of the JSE building. Picture: Sthembiso Lebuso


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