The South African Federation of Trade Unions is utterly disgusted by the violent assault on two women at a Johannesburg night club by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana.
It is appalling that less than a week into the month when South Africans are focussing on the problems facing women and in particular the violent attacks which they suffer on a daily basis, such a brutal crime should have been committed at all, but far worse that it should have been perpetrated by a government minister, an elected representative of the people.
In a recorded telephone conversation between Manana and Pesheya Duma, whose sister Mandisa was the most seriously assaulted – which was posted on social media – the deputy minister admits to the incident and can be heard confirming that: “Yes, I slapped her.”
It happened when a group of friends were having an argument on who should replace President Jacob Zuma in December. Manana became angry when the women disagreed with him and one allegedly said that he was gay.
If a “slap” was all that he did it would be bad enough but eyewitness accounts confirm that he continued to assault Duma in the parking lot outside the club and inflicted serious injuries. A case of assault has been opened by the police and SAFTU demands that Mañana be prosecuted and brought to court without delay.
In addition the federation insist that he must be immediately suspended by the ANC government. Government ministers should be held to the highest possible standards of conduct, and if its leaders fall to come down heavily on a minister especially one responsible for higher education, who commits such a heinous crime, the government will have forfeited any credibility and it talk of women’s rights will be exposed as empty rhetoric.
Women’s month has had a disastrous start, as this assault came just days after the incident at a KFC outlet in Pretoria in which women were viciously assaulted allegedly by a groups of six white racist men. They too must be brought to justice and severely punished.
Such acts such as these confirm why it is more necessary than ever to put an end to the outrageous levels of gender based violence. We need a mass campaign, not for 16 days, not just in the month of August but every day of the year!