Organisations fighting violence against women and child abuse say the beating of two women at a nightclub in Fourways by Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana could encourage boys to assault girls.
Sonke Gender Justice and Greater Rape Intervention Project (Grip) said Manana’s conduct could be seen as a “good behaviour for boys to emulate”.
CEO of Grip Sakina Mohamed said: “Already men do not have respect for women and because he [Manana] is a role model in the society, a boy [may] think it’s okay for women to be beaten up. They [children] do not do what you tell them, but what they see.”
Despite some children being raised in nonviolent families, Mohamed said the negative language and behaviour they learnt from their peers could change their behaviour. She said South Africans live in a violent society and youngsters are “schooled into it … This is where they learn such behaviour, even if they were raised in a peaceful home”.
Sonke Gender Justice acting co-executive director Bafana Khumalo said Manana’s behaviour “gives licence” for youngsters to assault girls.
“A lot of this is learnt at home. They see their fathers and uncles doing it at home and think it is the right thing to do. These are the kinds of actions that create problems in our society … There are groups on social media that support the deputy minister, saying he was provoked. If they [children] see a deputy minister doing that, they would think it’s the right thing to do,” said Khumalo.
Mohamed echoed several organisations’ mounting calls for Manana to resign with immediate effect. Upon resignation, “his salary for this month should be donated to an organisation” that supports battered women and children, said Mohamed.
“How many women has he beaten up? This cannot be the first time. We should not be writing about him because we are giving him free air time. Then, those who did not know him, will know him. Women should be calling for his resignation; he needs to leave.”
Mohamed said there are no accurate statistics of women and children who have been battered, explaining that “70 women might report their cases, but what about the 70 who did not?”