Activists stand against women abuse

Bishop September Mrali holds a symbolic candle as deputy mayor Nyaniso Jindela [centre] and Mmeli Sotshononda [far right] watch on.

Enough is enough! This was the resounding message from a candle lighting event against crimes against women and girl children, which brought together DA heavyweights, ANC politicians, businessmen and provincial clergymen.

Hosted recently at the Kayamandi Economic Corridor Tourism Centre by community activist and Societal Concerns 101 Movement leader Mmeli Sotshononda, the message against crimes against women and their upliftment was clear.

Mr Sotshononda’s event was dignified by Stellenbosch Municipality deputy mayor Nyaniso Jindela, council speaker Wilhelmina Petersen, ANC councillor Nokuthula Managa-Gugushe and clergy comprising Bishop September Mrali, reverend Phumzile Stofile, Jerry Kapel and Vusumzi Zwelendaba among others.

Social distancing protocols were observed by the 40 people who braved the rainy weather to listen to leaders speak out against violence against women and children.

“We’re saying we’re against gender-based violence in any form in Stellenbosch,” Mr Sotshononda said in his opening address.

Mr Jindela encouraged Mr Sotshononda to carry on holding similar events and spreading the word to youth about protecting and uplifting women.

Concerned by the culture and high levels of gender-based violence in Stellenbosch, and Kayamandi in particular, Mr Sotshononda spent weeks organising the event and getting the DA, ANC and business in one room for a cause for women.

Led by Reverend Stofile, encouraged Mr Sotshononda and the Societal Concerns 101 Movement to continue with their activism and awareness and education programmes across the province.

“[In coming events of this nature] There are many men who will come out and say: ‘gender-based violence is not right, something needs to be done’,” Mr Stofile said.

Speaking on behalf of girls in local schools, veteran teacher Victoria Hani told stories of how violent, cheeky and aggressive young boys had become towards girls and female teachers.

Ms Managa-Gugushe encouraged men to spread the word about the event so that it garners support in the near future.

“It’s the first even of its kind in Kayamandi. It feels impossible until it’s done. Now that we’ve started, we’re not going to stop fighting against violence on women and children.

Referencing the 1956 August 9 women’s march against the apartheid government’s proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act or pass laws, Ms Managa-Gugushe said: “It’s high-time we do it again if we must do it again. It’s high-time we must be respected as women, wives and the girl child.”

Mr Jindela said men should become “servants in their households” and not rule with an iron fist. He urged the young men in attendance to go home after the event and school their young brothers on how to protect and treat women.

He encouraged Mr Sotshononda to persist with the event and even intimated that the DA in Stellenbosch would co-opt his idea in its campaign trail and “mobilise” ahead of the elections.

In her vote of thanks, Ms Petersen gave the organiser, attendees and the Societal Concerns 101 Movement words of encouragement.