Ilitha Labantu denounces gender abuse

Radio personality Reverend Nomathamsanqa Rweqane and founder of Ilitha Labantu Mandisa Monakali chat to Community safety MEC Dan Plato at the march.

Hundreds of young and old people from around Gugulethu took to the streets on Friday November 24, on the eve of the launch of the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, to denounce violence against women and children.

The international campaign runs annually, from Saturday November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) until Saturday December 10 (International Human Rights Day).

The march, which culminated in a meeting at the Gugulethu Sports Complex, was organised by Ilitha Labantu.

It was the 5th edition of the Take Back the Night campaign, themed Reclaiming Our Streets. The campaign symbolises a community stand against violence on women in society.

Two groups of marchers gathered at NY3A and FAWU, before making their way to the sports complex.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato as well as top police officials joined the march, with radio personality Reverend Nomathamsanqa Rweqane in their midst.

Although men are generally seen as the perpetrators of violence against women and children, only a handful joined the march which was dominated by women and children.

But this did nothing to damper the spirits of the marchers who sang and danced, condemning violence against them.

Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said the campaign formed part of a bigger project and that the organisation hosted a series of events throughout the year, to better the society.

“Rather than looking at it from a distance, we can only move forward when we act when there is a problem and report what we see,” he said.

He added that the “culture of silence” contributed to the destruction of society.

“Silence gives the perpetrators of violence impetus,” said Mr Monakali.

We are here to stamp out what is happening in our community.”

Marchers held placards denouncing violence against children and chanting anti-abuse slogans at passing motorists.

While there was a general lack of support from men, Mr Monakali praised those who attended the march, saying the message had been driven home.

“We expected more, but this is a step forward. We want to facilitate other engagements.

As you know it is going to be festive season, nights are always synonymous with bad things. People are not safe,” he said.

“Through this initiative we want our streets to be free of violence. We want to reclaim our dignity.”