Women ask for men to listen: ‘Our bodies are not crime scenes’

Many of the women participating in the Tshwane march knew someone who has been harmed or has died as a result of gender-based violence. (Gemma Ritchie/M&G)

Many of the women participating in the Tshwane march knew someone who has been harmed or has died as a result of gender-based violence. (Gemma Ritchie/M&G)

On June 30, Nomsa Mbuyisa (39) was gunned down by the father of her three sons. Her 19-year-old son witnessed his mother’s death. The man, Hector Mdletye (41), then shot her older brother, injuring him.

Mdletye is currently in jail, awaiting sentencing. Mbuyisa’s sister, Lindiwe Mazibuko (28), wants justice, especially as Mdletye has shown no remorse.  “He believes he will win the court case,” Mazibuko said.

Mazibuko, her mother and several family members were wearing black t-shirts with Mbuyisa’s face printed on them. They were at the #TotalShutDown march to share their story.

Hundreds of women, along with members of LGBTI and gender-neutral groups marched to the Union Buildings to raise awareness around gender-based violence on Wednesday. Marches were held around the country from Pretoria to Cape Town, Bloemfontein to George, Windhoek to Maseru, and Polokwane to Newcastle. Women who couldn’t participate in the march were asked to refrain from going to work and the shops and to wear black and red.

One of the #TotalShutdown organisers, Loyiso Soliso, said the preparations for the marches took two months and 60 000 people were expected to attend.

The women had a list of 24 demands that they refused to hand to Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor because they wanted to hand the demands over to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Director of Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Group, Nondumiso Nsibande explained that the 24 demands are representative of all the years since South Africa became a democracy that gender-based violence has gone unheard.

The first demand on called on the president to host a gender summit where these issues can be raised.

The organisers are also calling on the government not to appoint officials who have a history of gender-based violence. Last week former deputy minister of higher education, and ANC MP, Mduduzi Manana resigned from Parliament. Manana allegedly hit his domestic worker this year, and he pleaded guilty to assaulting two women at the Cubana club in Fourways last year. 

READ MORE: Manana withdraws from Parly to focus on his political organisation

Many of the women participating in the Tshwane march knew someone who has been harmed or has died as a result of gender-based violence.

In 2016/2017, the South African Police Service reported that a woman is raped every 36 seconds, and in 2015 Stats SA found that almost 61% of femicide cases took place at the victim’s home.

READ MORE: Rape and (in)justice: 340 guilty verdicts from 3952 cases

In August last year, Bhekisisa reported that a rape survivor has less than a one in 10 chance of seeing her perpetrator convicted.

On the other side of a dusty taxi rank on Struben Street — where the march began — Nester Yende from Langaville Extension 8 stands next to a pink banner. On the banner is a picture of her daughter Thembisile Lucia Yende who was murdered last year May.

According to Yende, her daughter went to work at Eskom’s Pitteport substation on May 17 2017, but she didn’t come home that night. The 38-year-old was found dead several days later, on May 29, in a room at the substation.

Yende was told that her daughter committed suicide, but her mother believes she was murdered. Yende is still searching for answers.

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA.  Read more from Gemma Ritchie

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