Stand up, protect SA's women and children!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Concerned about the recent spike in violence against the vulnerable, Cabinet has called on South Africans from all walks of life, to take a stand in turning the tide on gender-based violence.

“It is the duty of every South African to educate one another on the rights of women and children, and on the various recourse mechanisms that exist to help victims of violence,” Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said on Thursday during a post Cabinet briefing.

This condemnation from Cabinet comes as the country refocuses on gender-based violence after the South Gauteng High Court sentenced convicted murderer Sandile Mantsoe to 32 years in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Karabo Mokoena.

Other cases which have put the spotlight on the scourge is the discovery of the body of 10-year-old Katlego Joja in Mamelodi West, east of Pretoria, and the killing of Zolile Khumalo, by a former student, at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban.

Joja, who had been diagnosed with autism, was found floating in a nearby river on Sunday – four days after she was reported missing.

Khumalo‚ 21‚ was shot and killed on May 1 in her university residence in the Durban city centre by her ex-lover and alleged killer Thabani Mzolo (23). Mzolo was arrested at the scene‚ and faces charges of premeditated murder and possession of an illegal firearm as he makes his second appearance before the Durban Magistrate’s Court today.

Cabinet extended its heartfelt condolences to the Joja and Khumalo families, saying these cases were a testimony to the continuing challenges we face as a nation.

In another case, ANC MP Mduduzi Manana is reported to have allegedly assaulted his domestic worker. The worker accused Manana of allegedly pushing her down the stairs at his Fourways home at the weekend. She opened a case at the Douglasdale police station - which she later withdrew.

Minister Mokonyane said Cabinet discussed gender-based violence broadly but did not discuss the matter of Manana specifically.

The Minister said the law must take its course despite any accused individual’s standing in society.

“While justice and the law-enforcement agencies are seized with ensuring that the perpetrators do not go unpunished, as a society we all have a role to play in stopping these crimes.”

South Africans are encouraged to actively join advocacy and awareness-raising programmes in their respective communities and sectors.

“Cabinet also encourages victims to report these heinous crimes to law-enforcement authorities, who must investigate allegations of GBV and act firmly within the ambit of the law to ensure that justice is served.”

International Albinism Awareness Day

In a separate but related issue, the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 13 June as International Albinism Awareness Day.

The campaign aims to raise awareness about people living with albinism who are fully protected by the Constitution of South Africa.

Albinism is an inherited genetic disorder in which the body does not produce enough melanin, the chemical that is responsible for eye, skin and hair colour. Because of the lack of pigmentation, the affected person has very pale skin, hair and eyes.

In South Africa, around one in 4 000 people are estimated to be born with albinism, compared with about 1 in 20 000 worldwide, according to the Albinism Society of South Africa (ASSA).

Apart from vision problems and the risk of skin cancer associated with being exposed to the sun, people with albinism have a barrage of ignorance-fuelled myths and superstitions to contend with.

Some people refer to those with albinism as a curse, while some associate them with luck. Either way, they are often ostracised because of these labels and suffer discrimination at work and school as they appear to be different from others.

People with albinism live under risky conditions in some parts of the world. In Tanzania, for example, they are hunted like game and killed. Their body parts, or ‘Zeruzeru’ as they are called in Tanzania, are used by witchdoctors in ritual potions meant to bring power and wealth.

One of the myths that exist in this country is that people with albinism do not die like other human beings, that they simply disappear. Derogatory words such as “Inkawu” (‘monkey’) or “Leswafi” are used to refer to their condition.

Minister Mokonyane said it is the duty of all South Africans to educate themselves and others in the community on albinism so as to dispel myths and misconceptions.

“This will alleviate the trauma experienced by people with albinism and their families,” the Minister added. -