Residents urged to speak out against abuse

A group of voluneers and workers from different Mfuleni organisations are pictured before going out to educate people about the dangers of crimes.

As part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, stakeholders in the Mfuleni community, including Afrika Tikkun, police, Mfuleni library, Power Child, Uhambo and the Catholic Development Welfare, are pulling out all the stops to encourage people to speak out against injustices in the area.

They are supported by the City of Cape Town and the Department of Social Development.

On Wednesday November 30, they walked through the troubled area, distributing pamphlets, talking to people on the streets and going the door to door, urging residents to speak out and live in unity.

Organiser Nomfezeko Majola, from the Department of Social Development, said there was a need to encourage people to come forward. She said their records showed high instances of gender-based violence.

She said such initiatives would help people to get help. “It will be criminal for us to fold our arms and do nothing when there is trouble in our neighbourhood and homes. This campaign is a way of saying we are here to help.

“The cases of domestic violence reported to us are scary. But we want people to speak out more. We want neighbours to help each other in the fight against this act,” she said.

Sheila Chikoki, from Power Child, said the campaign was also an attempt to encourage people to live together peacefully. She said there was a need for people to reach out to others. “Reaching out to others is such a phenomenal thing to do. That encourages Ubuntu among people. If people could do that, people would be able to report what is happening in their neighbourhood,” she said.

Afrika Tikkun’s Siziwe Ndesi-Afika blamed parents who relocate to the area for not enrolling their children in school, adding that this also contributed to the problems experienced by the community. She urged parents to approach NGOs to assist them with registration.

Residents welcomed the members of the organisations in their homes with open arms. Those who spoke to Vukani said they were happy with the surprise visits. The residents said crime, including rape and gender-based violence in the area, were worrying.

Resident Siphokazi Seyile said it was rare to see people coming to them to offer advice unless there were elections. “They are doing a sterling job. I feel honoured that they came to our home. They gave advice and pleaded with us to report crime even if it is happening next door. I think the campaign they’re having is brilliant,” she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Nomathemba Muavha said such campaigns helped in addressing social challenges and ensuring people are comfortable to come forward. She said she was happy because more people were coming forward to report gender-based violence.

However, she said there needed to be ongoing education and awareness to change attitudes and behaviour. “It’s good that they speak out. Everybody says count me in. But in terms of decreasing it, that is where the problem is. There is a need to educate perpetrators. Males have indicated that females can be provocative and it seems females have accepted that they are wrong and deserve a beating, but it should not be like that. In our society it is the norm that girls wear pink and boys blue; girls wash the dishes and boys play with others outside. That is where the problem starts. People need to unlearn these norms,” she said.

Captain Muavha called on people to speak out more against crime. She urged people to work with police and not to take the law into their hands.