/ 18 August 2017

Manana pulls out of campus gender talk

Brief show: Mduduzi Manana at his court appearance in Randburg.
Brief show: Mduduzi Manana at his court appearance in Randburg.

Deputy Higher Education and Training Minister Mduduzi Manana has been pulled from a student dialogue on gender-based violence at the University of Venda, where he was supposed to give a keynote address on Friday.

The event has been organised by the department’s Higher Education and Training HIV/Aids Programme. Manana is the political head of the programme and frequently visits campuses to speak about its activities, which include talks on gender-based violence. But following allegations that Manana hit Mandisa Duma at the Cubana restaurant in Fourways, Johannesburg, two weeks ago, the Mail & Guardian understands that last-minute changes had to be made to the dialogue programme and one of the senior managers in the department will now deliver the keynote address.

Last week Manana appeared in the Randburg magistrate’s court, where he is facing charges of two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The court granted him a R5 000 bail and the case was postponed for further investigation.

Manana admitted to hitting Duma in an audio clip that was widely circulated on social media. In the clip, he said he slapped Duma after she called him gay.

In a statement he released apologising for the incident, he said he was provoked.

It has also emerged that Manana had a previous case of assault laid against him by a woman in Ermelo, Mpumalanga.

The incident allegedly occurred at Nesto Shisanyama and Lounge in July, according to Zinhle Makhohlane, who opened the case. It was withdrawn after the parties reached an agreement.

Besides giving the keynote address at the University of Venda event, Manana was also scheduled to be on a panel with students, academics and gender violence activists to discuss the topic.

Manana spoke at a similar dialogue in February at the University of Zululand, where he condemned sexual and gender-based violence.

“No matter what the underlying cause, it is always wrong and it is always unacceptable to those it intends to hurt, to our families, within our sector and across the country,” he said.

Manana was also at the forefront of the idea to establish a policy on sexual and gender-based violence in the higher education sector.

Last October he announced the technical task team that would work on the policy framework.

He said at the time: “As a sector, we want to state that each incident is unacceptable, unlawful and harmful … As a sector, we recognise that this is an urgent and necessary mission in order to protect students and staff and fulfil our mandate to educate South African youth and contribute to social and economic transformation progress.”

Speaking to the M&G last week, Duma alleged that Manana and four or five of his male companions beat her outside the club.

She said the men dragged her to the ground and slapped her. Duma said the blows and kicks to her body prevented her from standing up.