Hundreds of women from across the Cape Flats were honoured at the Department of Community Safety’s Women’s Month outreach programme at the Athlone civic centre, on Saturday August 26.
The event was held in partnership with the police, community police forum (CPF), neighbourhood watches, the City of Cape Town, Law Enforcement, religious leaders, non-government organisations (NGOs), and the South African Human Rights Commission.
Ward 49 councillor, Shahid Adams, said it was sad when an 83-year-old woman visited his office just because she would like a cup of tea.
“That cup of tea was the first thing she had over her lips that day, because her family abuses her. Let us teach our sons that it is not okay to hit a woman, and teach your daughters not to allow a man to abuse her. Speak up against abuse. If you don’t want to get involved, then you are just as guilty as the culprit,” Ms Adams said.
Premier Helen Zille, who also attended the event, said women are either victims or victors of abuse, adding that those women present, all represented the latter.
“You are saying no more, you are taking back our streets. The impact of a walking bus can transform communities, because many boys are being recruited into gangsterism while on their way to or from school. From my experiences, I have seen women form the backbone of our neighbourhood watches. Women standing together is a powerful force.”
She also encouraged people to speak out against abuse.
“It’s easier to keep quiet, because you don’t know if your suspicions are true. If any child suffers abuse because we are scared to report it, then we are an accomplice. Many children also suffer emotional abuse, and the worst type of abuse is feeling abandoned and not loved by their fathers,” Ms Zille said.
The Department of Community Safety facilitated interactions with women from more than 30 communities so far this month, under the theme “Women Speak Out”. The outreach programme has focused on the role of women in creating safer environments, and the support available from government departments and NGOs.
Manenberg singer, Phoenix, who was a finalist in SA’s Got Talent, was also there to entertain and share her life story with the audience.
“My life changed being in and coming from prison. Now I take nothing for granted and am determined to make a success of my life. I would like to encourage everybody to embrace your talents, and not to hide it,” Phoenix said.
Community Safety MEC, Dan Plato, believes that Women’s Month must go beyond the celebration of women.
“We need to have open and honest conversations about the problems in our communities that contribute to violence and abuse of women and children. The abduction, raping, killing and dumping of children, specifically young girls and babies, is of major concern to our department. It is a concern we share with police, NGOs and the general public. Men must also understand their responsibility in the safety of women and children. In most interpersonal violence cases, the perpetrator and victim knew each other – a friend, neighbour, boyfriend or even a family member. The problem for law enforcement authorities is – how do you police what is happening inside people’s homes? We have to speak out about that which is wrong in our own homes – abuse, drugs, guns. If you keep quiet about what is wrong, you are actually agreeing with it,” Mr Plato said.
Residents from Mitchell’s Plain, Elsies River, Steenberg, Lavender Hill, Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Delft, Wesbank, Uitsig, Ravensmead, Belhar, Vahalla Park, Bishop Lavis, Kalksteenfontein, Bonteheuwel, Manenberg, and Hanover Park attended the event.