Former deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana pleaded guilty at the Randburg Magistrates’ court today, where he appeared on two charges of assault and attempt to do grievous bodily harm. Video footage, which was widely circulated on social media, showed the former deputy minister attack a young woman at the popular Cubana lounge in Fourways last month.
Mandisa Duma, one of the two victims, circulated images of the injuries she sustained from the attack, which caused an uproar and public condemnation.
Manana tendered his resignation for his position in the department of higher education, but remained a member of Parliament. He’s been out on R5000 bail since his first court appearance in August.
During his second court appearance, supporters rallied behind Manana, with calls to forgive him.
Despite the stigma around abuse, students pledged their support towards Manana, saying that he was an “inspiration” to them for his contribution to the education sector and that he should become an ambassador towards men against violence towards women and children following his apology and resignation from office.
The students were “praying” for all charges to be dropped against him.
University of Johannesburg student leader Brian Matyila said that Manana was “one of the first leaders in South Africa” to resign and to say sorry.
Many expressed their shock and confusion regarding the support, and questioned the ethics behind rallying behind a man who “abused his power of office to inflict harm on others”.
Opposing the support was the Democratic Alliance, who protested against Manana and women abuse with posters that read: “Real men don’t hit women.”
Before Manana’s case commenced in court, a confrontation took place between student supporters and Andile Gaelesiwe from #NotInMyName, in which Gaelesiwe was accused of being homophobic.
Manana alleged at the time that he was called “gay” by one of the women. He said this provoked his attack.
In a statement and video addressed to the public last month, Manana apologised for his actions and said he would submit to the “full might of the law”.
“I know that my actions and those of the people in my company have disappointed and hurt many people in the country. As a leader, I should have known better and acted better,” he said last month.
Meanwhile a second suspect, who was allegedly also involved in the assault, was arrested at the court today. He may not be named because he has not yet appeared in court.