‘We won’t fold our arms on violence’. #100MenMarch is ‘just the start’

2018-07-10 18:36

Police Minister Bheki Cele and Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane were among the thousands of South African men and women who marched to show their support for the fight against woman and child abuse.

Members of civil society, a number of non-governmental organisations and different government departments took part in the #100MenMarch from Church Square in Pretoria, to the Union Buildings.

Commissioner at the commission for gender equality, Mbuyiselo Botha said that one of the reasons for the march was to honour former president Nelson Mandela and struggle stalwart Albertina Sisulu.

“The main reason for the march was to commemorate and celebrate the two stalwarts. The two would be turning 100 years old had they still been with us this year.

“We also wanted to put men at the centre stage, to make sure that men raised their voices to say that violence against women would not happen and that they would not look the other way,” he said.

Botha said that men needed to hold each other accountable.

“It is men who raped and violated women and they would have to be at the forefront of mobilising and galvanising other men and as men we will not look the other way; we will not fold our arms on the violence,” said Botha.

Phumla Williams, acting director-general of the Government Communication and Information System, said that she was thrilled with the turnout.

“The purpose of the march was achieved today. We have always said that not all men are abusers and today peace-loving men came out in their numbers to support the call by government.

"These men showed that they would not sit back and let the violence against women and children continue,” she said.

Members of the Gender Commission for Equality marched in support of ending violence against women and children. Picture: Avantika Seeth/City Press

“This does not end here. We will work together with members of civil society, religious organisations and non government organisations in continuing to carry the baton of doing something to fight gender-based violence,” Williams added.

According to Williams, information would be made available for individuals who wanted to do something in their neighbourhoods.

Female marchers were there in their numbers to pledge their support to governments call to put an end to abuse against women and children.

Nomonde Kumalo said she was happy about the turn-out.

“Although I feel like the perpetrators are not here today, I am happy to see all the men who are at the march,” she said.

Employees from the South African Revenue Services were also at the #100MenMarch. Picture: Avantika Seeth/City Press

Lebo Muhzhenen expressed how awareness was important.

“It’s important to raise awareness against woman abuse. Men need to be more aware of their actions,” said Muhzhenen.

During the march, outside the Pretoria News office, ministers Mokonyane and Cele both signed the words “no to woman abuse” on a pledge as an indication of their support to the cause.

Ministers and various stakeholders signed a pledge in front of the Pretoria News building. Picture: Avantika Seeth/City Press

South African Revenue Service officials, Vincent Sibande and Jacob Mkhatshwa, both said that the service fully supported the cause.

“Children are our future taxpayers and they deserve to be loved. If you can’t love our women and children please do not harm them,” said Sibande.

Sibande said that he hoped the march would cripple the conscience of perpetrators.

“Even if the perpetrators are not here, this should signal to them that we are against the violence. We hope we can convert a number of men,” he added.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, television personality Mara Louw and church leaders at the #100MenMarch. Picture: Avantika Seeth/City Press

Anti-violence organisation #NotInMyNameSA had threatened to boycott the march if kwaito musician Arthur Mafokate attended, because he was facing charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

“Arthur is not welcome at the #100MenMarch. We cannot endorse contradicting behaviour and march alongside perpetrators,” said the organisation.

Mafokate, who was accused of assaulting musician Busisiwe “Cici” Twala, did not attend the #100MenMarch.

Kabelo Thelele, who is the project officer for the Media Development and Diversity Agency, an organisation that raises funds for community media in South Africa, said that communities could do more.

“Communities need to take it upon themselves to be spokespersons and advocates for social radical change,” he said.

Television actress Mara Louw with Minister of Communications Nomvula Mokonyane at the #100MenMarch.

At the Union Buildings, people gave various messages of support and a pledge was read.

Men at the march were asked to say it too: “Change begins with me, and I can motivate others to end violence against women and children.

"I pledge to help break the culture of silence that accompanies violence and abuse. I pledge not to commit violence, and to act when I see violence against women and children.

"I pledge to teach those in my care the values of human dignity, equality and respect.”

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May 19 2019