South African men are worse than beasts, Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said in Athlone last week, referring to the country’s plague of gender-based violence.
He was speaking at the launch of Reconciliation Month, held at the Joseph Stone Auditorium on Wednesday December 2.
This year’s theme is “United against racism and gender-based violence (GBV) and other intolerances”.
The launch was marked by two events – a 5km walk, followed by a reconciliation dialogue, with panellists speaking about racism and gender-based violence. They included Caroline Peters, a gender and community activist who has served on the boards of various organisations and is also founder of the Callas Foundation, and Derrek Oldjohn, a reformed criminal who was jailed for 21 years and now runs an anti-gangsterism, anti-drugs and anti-bullying programme.
The walk was led by Mr Mthethwa, Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC, Anroux Marais and mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien.
The ANC member of Parliament for the greater Athlone area, Faiez Jacobs, was also among the walkers.
Before the walk, Mr Mthethwa called on men to confront the issues around gender violence.
“Our culture as African people has never condoned the abuse and killing of women. Even in the olden days in a war, we made sure that women and children are protected.
Women have spoken out about the abuse, and they have been crying. They don’t abuse themselves. We must be man enough to confront our issues, and it needs to start with the boy-child. We need to ensure the change in narrative, so that they must know they have the responsibility to love and protect women.”
He also urged people to become more physically active.
People become sick and children are obese because they are not active, Mr Mthethwa said.
“A healthy body equals a healthy mind, and healthy minds won’t do criminal activities such as gender-based violence.”
Dr Badroodien said Reconciliation Day (on Wednesday December 16) was a time to reflect on the past and to look ahead to the future.
Dr Badroodien added: “It is imperative to have important talks, but even more important is to take action. We do not have to look far at our country’s painful history, as Athlone’s history is among it,” he said.
He said the City of Cape Town was committed to work with all spheres of government Ms Marais said Athlone had been at the centre of the struggle against apartheid in the 1980s, and because of its rich history, the Western Cape Heritage Council was considering declaring a portion of Turfhall Road (between Klipfontein and Repulse roads) a provincial heritage site.
The walkers paused for a few minutes at the Trojan Horse Massacre Memorial in Turfhall Road, one of the area’s historical landmarks.