March against violence

About 150 parents who have lost loved ones to gender-based or gang-related violence marched from the Good Hope Centre to Parliament last week to give a message to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The march was held on the first anniversary of #thetotalshutdown movement, which saw activists across the country march to demand an end to gender-based violence.

At the march on Thursday, August 1, Manda Matthaei of Women Unite said the government needs to listen to those who work at grassroots level.

“More people, especially women and children, are suffering as a result of apartheid. There is no unity, I believe, but organisations have been working towards joining hands in a fight against gender-based violence and femicide,” she said.

“More so, the government needs to chip in, be it either in terms of finance or resources, but only if they listen to the organisations, will it work. Most of these members are based in the area which the organisations are and they know exactly what their areas need and not our so called politicians. It’s time to stand together and it’s time to listen to community leaders. And for those of you who think that you can just come and do as you please to other people’s children, I am here to tell you that enough is enough.”

Member of #thetotalshutdown movement, Monica Abrahams, said they came out in numbers because they are tired of the current situation. “Too many children have been getting killed, especially girls.”

Edna Anthony said: “It is important for us to support these mothers and fathers because we have grandchildren and we would hate for any harm to go their way. And we usually pray about this but when the opportunity to be visible arises, always count me in.“

Lynn Abrahams also added her support to the march.

“When the movement emerged last year, a voice was born, a voice that spoke of gender-based violence and femicide. For that I give my full support. I want to tell offenders to stop killing us, and a violation of another human being’s rights is not on because they also want to live their lives in peace.”

Former City of Cape Town mayor and now Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille met the marchers on their arrival at Parliament. “Skop, skiet en donder is not the answer. We need to deal with the issue at hand,” she said of an attempt to reduce crime, specifically gang-related crime through the deployment of the army on the Cape Flats.

Some were not happy about her appearance and questioned where she was during the first march, while others welcomed her with open arms and were willing to listen to what she had to say. She said people go through trauma and putting soldiers over their shoulders is not going to help anyone but potentially make things worse. She also added that more social workers should be placed in priority areas because she feels that it could be the best solution for now.

Women and supporters of #thetotalshutdown have vowed not to stop until president Cyril Ramaphosa has heard what they have to say.