Organisers of a fundraising dinner against gender-based violence, where convicted woman-beater Mduduzi Manana was due to speak “as an offender”, say the event was never about him.
But the woman known as “Lion Mama” – who fought off and stabbed three men who were raping her daughter, killing one of them – said last week that she was “sad” that Manana wouldn’t be there.
Manana was meant to speak at the dinner at the East London Golf Club yesterday.
Buhle Tonise, organiser for not-for-profit organisation Shevolution Africa, said the intention of the event was always about raising funds for Lion Mama and said the hype around Manana was unfortunate, but as organisers they took full responsibility for their mistake.
“Mr Manana is no longer part of the panellists. He is not even attending the event at all. He was going to speak as an offender, but us as organisers also realised the mistake because a poster was communicated and it had no caption, and when everything focused on him it caused a lot of attention,” she said.
“We have to admit that we did not think that it would be interpreted the way it was.”
However, Lion Mama told City Press on Thursday that it was sad Manana was not given a chance to speak.
“I heard about the outcry over his inclusion, but I don’t know whether it is because I am illiterate, but I see nothing wrong when a person who has done wrong comes forward and admits to his mistakes,” she said.
“My understanding is that he was going to speak about his experiences as an offender and maybe offer insight into what goes on into the mind of a person who does what he did.
“Now we have been robbed of that chance. Who knows, maybe he was even going to apologise for his actions or something. But I do understand why people are unhappy with him and feel offended. But at the end of the day we are all human, we all make mistakes and deserve second chances in life.”
The elderly woman from Mount Frere said she was feeling better after her ordeal, but her daughter was still haunted by what happened.
“At times you see that she is deep in thought and she cries when she recalls what happened back then. With time we hope she will be alright,” she said.
Lion Mama said she plans to finish the house she was building with the money raised at the dinner, and was grateful for the country’s support.
“All I want is to say thank you to all South Africans from all walks of life who have been with the family since day one, their thoughts and prayers have carried us. [I want] people to continue with the spirit of ubuntu that they showed me and my family, and to encourage them to do the same for others.”
Women’s Month, she said, should be used to educate men that women are their equals.
“Women are always victims to men who boast of their masculinity instead of protecting us. We must teach our boy children from an early age to love and protect their sisters, and not see themselves as better than them or to dominate them because that is where the problem starts.”
Tonise, who is Lion Mama’s lawyer, said organisations including People Opposing Women Abuse pointed out to them the insensitivity of including Manana on the poster.
“We sat down after we had realised that his presence could actually ruin the whole purpose of what we are trying to do. We just could not let the event collapse because of him and so we decided that we cannot be going ahead with him,” she said.
Tonise said there were “people who have come forward and will help her complete building her four-roomed house”.
“Another person has committed to help her with painting, provide her with water tanks and provide furniture,” she said.
Lion Mama’s daughter was also to be part of the event at which her mother was the main speaker. She was badly affected by her alleged attackers’ decision to reverse their guilty plea to one of not guilty, meaning she will have to face them and testify before them at trial.