On 18th February 2013 the Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North West convened an emergency meeting to deal with the spate of gender-based violence, and the abuse and rape of women and children in this country.
COSATU NW has noted that it seems this province is in the lead of the incidence of these attacks, as they happen almost every day and in every community, and it affects women of all ages and children as young as 6 months.
We received reports that six men raped a man who was on his way to work two weeks back in the area of Rustenburg and that the man is currently hospitalised at JST hospital in Rustenburg. These are criminals and animals.
We are asking our members in all communities to support families who are victims of such criminal activities and that the man of 60 years of who raped and killed an11year old girl at Macau must also feel the pain of such killing. It is reported that the man had more than four cases of rape and killing in the same area.
Where is our moral obligation? Where is our revolutionary culture of Ubuthu?
Two weeks ago, 8 young boys raped a young girl, a 46-year -old man raped a 10-months baby girl. Our moral responsibility to protect our women and children is no more.
Despite the efforts that have been made to take forward the gender struggle, gender disparities which used to exist pre-apartheid and in the apartheid era are still there. Women and children are still treated as if they are sub-human beings and third-class citizens of this country. Women still suffer the triple oppression of gender, inequality and class.
The other contributing factors are the myths that come with our cultural and religious beliefs, which continue to place women and children as subjects of men. Inasmuch as we respect the constitution of our country we believe that there is a need to put a limitation on religious and cultural practices, especially where they violate the rights of other citizens.
We also believe that there is a link between the current growing poverty and unemployment and the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Such substances are contributing to the challenges facing our country, in particular in our province.
The meeting welcomed the establishment of the commission on gender-based violence.
The meeting attended by the stake-holders assessed the situation and the province and agreed on the following:
Marches to the criminal justice cluster to raise our concerns and on 1st March 2013 in Mafikeng to the NPA office. There must be co-ordinating teams in all the regions and these marches must be in all regions and have one memorandum and this will culminate into a national march.
The national march will be on the 8th March and all of us must be part of the march from our NW.
There must be a task team with two representatives from each stake-holder; the task team must develop a costed program of action which must include all stake-holders and it must be sustainable for 365 days with practical actions in our province.
A mobilisation program which will be popularised in the media with all our local community radio stations.
Pickets at all the courts where the suspects are appearing and demands that no bail must be granted to the alleged rapists and killers.
Compile a list of all cases in the province, including those that were withdrawn, and those when alleged perpetrators were granted bail; all such cases must recalled back to the roll.
Call for the amendment of the liquor bylaws and full investigation into all communities where business people are granted permission to build taverns next to schools.
Convene a meeting with the Special Investigation Unit and the Department of Justice.
Develop an advocacy program
Develop a capacity-building program for all the communities, in particular our women.
Call on all members of COSATU to be committed to the fight against gender-based violence.
Develop a campaign for responsible parenthood.
Revive the program for establishing street community and neighbourhood watches
Develop a program to fight against drug abuse.
The next meeting for the task team will be on 21st February 2013 at COSATU provincial office in Klerksdorp.
We are calling on all progressive MDM, NGOs, churches, women’s and men’s forums, social development groups and the SAPS to take matters seriously, to protect our country and our democracy. Criminals are going to continue to abuse our democracy for their own advantage. We will be calling our government to review the legal aid board policies on who must be represented in these structures.