NEHAWU condemns the rise in gender-based violence during the Lockdown

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] notes with anger the perpetual and persistent rise in cases of violence directed at women and children, rape and femicide especially during the lockdown.

Reports suggests that the number of gender-based violence [GBV] cases has risen by 500% since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. We find it abhorrent that women continue to be killed and abused mostly by people close to them. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the problems faced by women in abusive relationships because they become trapped with their abusers with no possibility to escape or call for help.

While the entire country was mourning 21 year old Tshegofatso Pule who was laid to rest on Thursday after she was found hanging from a tree in a Roodepoort with multiple stab wounds to her chest, another body of a young woman found dumped under a tree in an open veld in Dobsonville, while in Khayelitsha 34 year old Sibongiseni Gabada’s decomposing body was found chopped into pieces and stuffed inside in a sports bag.

Just recently, a NEHAWU shopsteward, Comrade Tebogo Dikeledi Auspicious Matsane-Mabunda, was killed by her husband after a domestic dispute. We applaud the decision by the judge not to grant the defendant bail and we call on all our members and the community of Nelspruit to support her family as the matter goes for trial on the 3rd August 2020 at the Nelspruit District Court.

As NEHAWU, we believe that the issue of gender based violence, rape and femicide is a crisis that is tearing our society apart and affects every community in the country. In this regard, we call on all members of society to join hands in ending violence directed at women and children. Moreover, law enforcement agencies should act decisively against all perpetrators of gender-based violence and work with relevant stakeholders to fight violence in schools and communities.

We note that the number of Gender Based Violence grew rapidly after the unbanning of the sale of alcohol under level 3 of the lockdown. We call on victims not to suffer in silence and report perpetrators to law enforcement agencies. Moreover, we commit ourselves to continue fighting for the interests of workers and purse the struggle against domestic and gender based violence.

In line with our gender policy, our December 2019 Central Executive Committee [CEC] strongly denounced all forms of patriarchal abuses and violence, and committed to translate these pronouncements into a practical action. Our practical programme shall go hand in hand with ideological and political training to build capacity of our proletarian women cadreship so that the struggle for women’s emancipation is intertwined with our socialist cause.

The CEC also called on all our members to expose those who perpetrate gender-based violence even if they are members of the union. The CEC also directed the national union to decisively deal with any member found to have abused women and children. As NEHAWU, we pledge to deepen our level of consciousness and activism in gender and women’s emancipation struggles and we will intensify the campaign to extend the 16 days of activism against women and children from 16 days to 365 days.

We will continue to struggle for a non-sexist society that will ensure that women and children are safe from all forms of abuse and violence. In this regard, we will intensify our work in fighting against violence directed to women and to this end we shall engage in the following actions:

·       Raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national and international level

·       Strengthening our work against violence on women

·       Establishing a clear link between local organisations and international work to end violence against women

·       Providing a forum in which organisations can develop and share new and effective strategies

·       Demonstrating the solidarity of women in our union against gender-based violence

·       Creating tools to pressure the government to implement promises made to eliminate gender based violence against women

As NEHAWU, we call on society at large to join hands in fighting all forms of violence directed at women and all forms of abuse.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 082 455 2500 or email: