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The men attending the Imbizo ya Madoda in Khayelitsha on Monday were asked what the factors are contributing to gender-based violence in the area and in broader society. They raised the issues of drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, the failure of the police and courts to coordinate, and toxic cultural practices. The men’s gathering was held at Desmond Tutu Hall in Makhaza and was organised by Khayelitsha Development Forum, with the support of the Civilian Secretariat for the Police and the provincial government. The event came as a result of one of the recommendations of the Khayelitsha Crisis Response Summit which was held at False Bay College in June.

Sipho Rataza from the Western Cape youth crime prevention desk said that the problem with gender-based violence starts with how men refer to women and do not call each other out. “We need to be careful of the message we send to our peers, those who are younger than us and our boy children. When we go to drinking places we refer to women as ‘stock’ and that is wrong. If you can’t stop another man from calling women ‘laweyi, then you are part of the problem,” he said.

Rataza also raised the importance of consent when it comes to sexual intercourse. “Maybe the problem is that some of us don’t fear the police and being unemployed is not an excuse to be abusive to your partner.”

Thembalethu Ndlangalava from Site C said the courts are partly to blame for violence when they release abusers and rapists early. “They get arrested and a few days later they are out because they are released by courts. The courts and the police need to work closely together,” he said. Ndlangalava also cited the abuse of drugs and alcohol as a key factor in gender-based violence.

Mnoni Khente raised the cultural expectations of a young man returning from initiation school when goaded by his peers to ‘ukukhupha ifutha’ (get rid of bad luck). “The problem is we send young traditional nurses to look after the initiate and they feed them with wrong things and information,” he said.

The effectiveness of the police in dealing with cases of gender-based violence also came into question. “They do not know how to deal with domestic abuse cases of men. They will laugh at you when you go open a case,” said Zakuthini Ndletyana from Site B.

Lumkile Sizila from Amadoda Aqotho, an organisation that advocates for better men, echoed the issues of drug and alcohol abuse and the early release of perpetrators by the courts.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele asked the delegates to think about their mothers as they commit violent gender-based crimes.

Responding to the issue of the courts, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution in the Western Cape, advocate Tommy Bunguzana said that they always oppose bail, but the strength of each case depends on the investigation by the police and the information that communities give to the police. “I want to plead with you to give full information to the police and not be scared as you will always be protected. We do have witnesses protection programmes.”

Bunguzana admitted that the wheels of justice turn slowly and that the prosecutors have a backlog of cases but that they are trying to deal with them as quickly as possible.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele called for the engagement of men in combating the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa. “Men always talk about how they need to protect women and that is problematic. They see women as pets and that is the primary reason, they want to protect them. Women are fully fledged human beings and are not our pets.”

Cele had a go at absent fathers for not supporting and raising their children. Based on the last-released national crime statistics, the Western Cape recorded 1,611 sexual offences between April and June 2022.

A total of 1,115 people, mostly women were raped during the same period in the province and according to Cele, they were raped in their homes by people they know.