Umlazi resident Zandile Mpanza has become a beacon of hope for thousands of women for standing up to the men who stripped her because they disapprove of women wearing pants. Judgment against her attackers is expected next week.
Her life changed forever when she dared to wear trousers in public even though she knew that local community leaders in Umlazi’s
T-section insisted women wear skirts only.
The young woman still trembles when she speaks about her ordeal when four men accosted her while she was doing her washing. They beat and kicked her before allegedly ripping off her pants. She was made to walk through the suburb dressed only in panties and a shirt.
Later, her house was burnt down.
Despite being shunned by the community and losing her home and precious possessions in the fire, Mpanza said she will continue to fight for her rights as a woman.
Mpanza remains confident that she will also get justice for all the women that are oppressed in the community.
“I decided to fight for myself and for other women. Most women remain silent when they are abused but I will keep fighting until I win.”
Mpanza said the incident also left her son deeply traumatised as he witnessed some of the attack. She said that she hopes her outspokenness over the pants issues will help her son grow up to respect women.
Once the criminal trial is over, Mpanza said, she wants to start a womens’ organisation that assists abused women.
“My dream is to stand up for other women who are abused. … I’m going to move on with my life and be positive about the future.”