“I want to be part of society when women and children can walk freely without fear.”
These are the words of Khayelitsha-born Springbok Women’s 7s rugby captain Babalwa Latsha who was the guest speaker at an event organised to speak out against gender-based violence.
At the gathering at Fresh Fire Ministries Church in Browns Farm, Philippi last Tuesday, various community-based organisations recommitted themselves to fighting this scourge and empowering women.
Led by the Silusapho organisation in partnership with Lugongolo Foundation, Nyanga SAPS and Gift of the Givers Foundation, the organisations met to honour the “heroines” who came forward to take a stand against abuse.
In her keynote address, Ms Latsha described fighting gender-based violence as the responsibility of the whole community.
The Springbok condemned crimes against women and children and vowed to fight social injustice, including GBV. She said it was her responsibility to defend women but also significant for men to join the fight against GBV in the townships to change the status quo.
“I want to be part of society when women and children can walk freely without fear,” she said.
“Women should live up to their potential without fear that they will be killed or raped. I support and fight against the cruelty in our communities.”
Co-founders of the Browns Farm-based Silusapho, Nonkosi Mgwexa and Khanyisa Zangqa, said they were taking a stand against gender-based violence in Philippi where, they said, GBV had been “normalised”.
“We have seen a lot of abuse here. That’s one of many reasons that we formed Silusapho. In Philippi GBV is taken as normal. To be abused is just like any other thing, not taken seriously. Our vision is to educate both men and women because there are many who are dearly abused too,” said Ms Mgxwexa.
Her colleague and friend Ms Zangqa said the organisation had had to help families to bury women who had been brutally killed.
“I am happy that we have done good for the community. It prides us to have walked such a long road and are still standing. But we will continue helping women and children,” she said.
Gift of the Givers spokesman Alli Sablay said gender-based violence was a “sickness” that was spreading through the community faster than Covid-19 and had increased rapidly during the lockdown period.
“Gender-based violence cases increased at an alarming rate during lockdown. It is not cured by a vaccine, but by educating people of all ages about the rights of both sexes,“ he said.
“I am happy today that we honour those who have been speaking out against GBV. They have our full support,” said Mr Sablay.