By Sekwanele, 1st April, 2021
In South Africa, the Traditional Authority is the backbone of many communities. It arranges the law and makes sure that community members abide by it. They play a huge role in refining tradition, which includes the culture that denotes and distinguishes the males and the females according to their sexes. Females and males are expected to behave in a certain ways according to their physical traits. According to our traditions a women should submit to men’s needs. A lot of women have been failed by culture. Men have been given the power to decide for women, they have been unintentionally given the right to suppress women because culture allows them to.
We want our community to be structured differently, and aim to work hand in hand with traditional leaders to change and reform the way things are. We are reaching out to women in our village (RDP Village) and giving them a platform to speak from, to be the support structure of females or males who have been abused, to follow up on cases of abuse that have happened in communities. There’s nothing that’s more reassuring like having support after you have experienced abuse, going through court cases knowing that there is a strong force of support behind you. Women of the rural Reconstruction and Development Program Village have been silent, they have been side lined and have lost all their integrity through pure humiliation from both their abusers, corrupt community leaders and the South African Police Services.
Now here is a question: Are women still part of this country?
We have been fighting to be treated with respect and dignity. Women are being butchered like animals each and every year. We see women writing posters with the caption STOP GBV on our TV screens but through all the mist of these hasty protests a women is brutally being killed. WE ARE TIRED, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!! And that is the meaning of Sekwanele : Enough is Enough!
We have taken our first step to addressing the wicked behaviours that plague our community, by paying a visit to our Chief and the Tribal Authority. The outcome of this is that they are aware of what is happening in our community. We received a warm welcome from the chief’s right hand man Nduna Kubayi and the seniors of the authority, Mr Mathonsi, Mr Khoza, Mr Hlungwani, Mr Mzimba and Mr Mhlanga. The seniors serve as witnesses and advisors to everything that takes place in the village. They felt that helping women take their power back will bring stability to the RDP village.
It is believed that the justice system is failing women and children because there is a lot of negligence happening, a lot of cases concerning GBV that haven’t been solved, some have been dropped. We had also spoken to them about the 12 year old from our village who was brutally raped and stabbed last year, who hasn’t found justice because DNA results are not ready yet, a year after the incident happened. The child had to leave to another village because the perpetrator is out of prison, and has moved back to our village and is roaming around like nothing happened .
Now is this what we call justice? People can easily buy their freedom these days. Community members have been silent, watching from a mile away as the predator lurks for his next feast. The ripple of rage that had struck them is now gone, lost into thin air.
The leaders are offering to be present in every motion we take, they also understand that men have felt entitled to everything because they have been given that power by our own culture.
The Traditional Authority emphasised that their role is to reflect the values and beliefs that structure a community, and after that they will let the local government play its role too. According to them they have partnered with the South African Police Services before, to discuss the issues that face our surrounding communities. The relationship they had then with SAPS has deteriorated because of pure negligence. They want to reform an alliance with SAPS, CDF (Community Development Forum) and other community leaders to fight against a common enemy, uniting leaders for the better of our community.
We call on our leaders to take a stand : to send a clear message that rape and assault have no place in our villages, and that perpetrators are not welcome, that women and children are valued and worthy of safe, secure lives.