Not in my name!Living with AIDS #220

KHOPOTSO: On the eve of Fathers’€™ Day they came from different backgrounds. The age gap was enormous ‘€“ from the very young to the very old. About 90% were men. What united them was the collective sense of sorrow and guilt over the crimes perpetrated by their fellow males against the women and children of South Africa.        

For as long as we still tolerate violence and say that it is domestic violence, we have not as yet got angry. Now we must get angry, get angry, angry and say that it’€™s not domestic violence. It’€™s violence against society. Uyabona, (You see) if you say it’€™s violence in the home, you are virtually saying that thina singumphakathi (we as society) we have nothing to do with that violence. But when you say it’€™s violence against society, then you are saying bafowethu (beloved) all of us must stand up. All of us must feel angry. Kufanele si nyanye. Re tshwanetse re nyonye. We must hate. We must feel bilious about violence against women.      

KHOPOTSO: Mbulelo Botha, co-ordinator of the South African Men’€™s Forum, was one of many a speakers who made an impassioned plea for the end of women and child abuse. The gathering was held at Thokoza Park, situated on a very busy main-road in Rockville. Then the men marched to the local Moroka Police Station where a memorandum was presented to police.

Viva ma-comrade, Viva’€¦ The memorandum reads thus: ‘€œThe media reports almost daily about the high rate of violence against women and children. Some of these violent incidences reported include Andries Mmolawa from Zuurbekom who murdered his

girl-friend’€™s three children by strangling them. He then proceeded to stab and assault her. Mmolawa then hanged himself’€¦ Four people were shot dead, including one-year old Ayanda Buthelezi, in the Madala hostel in Alexander. Two men had been in a bitter fight over the paternity of the baby’€¦ Mr Khumalo who shot his step-son, mother and wife because she refused him conjugal rights as she suspected that he was infected with HIV. He later took his own life’€¦’€

KHOPOTSO: And the list of gruesome murders went on and on. The message was clear and simple from the men present here ‘€“ as was the theme for the march and rally.

Not in our name, we say. Thank you’€¦

KHOPOTSO: After he presented the memorandum, Rev. Bafana Khumalo, a Commission on Gender Equality commissioner, found time to speak to us.

REV. BAFANA KHUMALO: We want to say to those who are continuing to carry out such dastardly acts that they are not doing those things in the name of men’€¦ It’€™s a denunciation of these acts because we think they are an abomination and should be wiped out of our lives as South Africans.

KHOPOTSO: Following the recent spate of femicides and family murders reported in the South African media recently, there is a theory that the discovery of HIV within the relationship or family is one of the underlying causes for men committing such crimes. Khumalo says that is an issue the ‘€œNot in my name’€ campaign wants to address.            

REV. BAFANA KHUMALO: We are saying let’€™s break the silence as men. There’€™s this notion of ‘€˜tigers don’€™t cry’€™. As a man, even if you feel the pain, you must just keep it within you. We think that is not taking us very far. That’€™s why, in our view, we are seeing these femicides’€¦ Because they’€™ve been defined as people who are supposed to be strong and not having any vulnerabilities. And we are saying all of us are vulnerable. We are all human. We are all mere mortals. And we must be willing to talk about this.      

KHOPOTSO: The event was one of many efforts aimed at breeding a new species of men. Pumlani Mzangwa is a 25-year old young man from Pimville, Soweto. His involvement in the march is driven by his mission to be a different kind of man.

PUMLANI MZANGWA: I don’€™t want to be perceived as a violent man. I don’€™t want to be perceived as a man who is ignorant. I don’€™t want to be perceived as a man who doesn’€™t care. I want to be perceived as a man who is willing to see a change, to create a conducive environment for all the men and women in our communities.

KHOPOTSO: The march and rally are over. The memorandum has been presented to the police station. These were important events. But how long will it take before the voices of men are raised against abusers again? How long before there is any measurable behaviour change among men, justly or unjustly viewed as agents of HIV infection, death and suffering?              

E-mail Khopotso Bodibe


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