MEC for Community Safety
Head of Department for Community Safety
Provincial Police Commissioner
Newly elected leadership
All Social Partners : women’s network and CPF
Leadership of Organised Labour present
Members of the media
Thetha Ndoda !!!! Thetha !!!!
Good morning and thank you for inviting us to come and join you in this important Annual General Meeting. This AGM is meant to usher in a new provincial leadership for the Men for Change movement but before you get there you must discuss and agree on critical issues that you want the leadership you will elect to carry forward. The energy around these four walls must first be channeled on the work that this noble movement must do, to galvanize its membership towards building safe communities in our province and not on the election of new leadership.
Programme Director, those who know me will tell you that I am very fond of the frontline service departments of government such as SAPS, Health and Education because they are in the coal face of serving our people. Hence, I make sure that I find time to interact with employees and structures in these departments. I must confess that I was encouraged to priorities this programme by the Theme of today’s session which says: “We are agents of change”.
Ingxaki esinazo apha ephondweni lethu zifuna abantu abafana nani amathandazwe athi Thuma mina. We are a province that has self-appointed fault finders in everything that is happening in our society, who rarely lift their hands to offer solutions to societal challenges. These are people President John F. Kennedy spoke against when he said: “Ask not what your country can do for you— ask what you can do for your country.”
I am here today to add the voice of government to the good work you are doing, voluntarily as part of your patriotic contribution to nation building. None of you are remunerated for the extra tasks you do in the Men for Change movement. You could use the time you invest in the Men for Change movement to do your own personal activities, but you chose to participate in a bigger cause that benefits humanity than your own selves.
The first words we want to utter today is Thank you, to all the members of the Men for Change movement for the outstanding work you have been doing in our communities since the movement was established in 2004. Your work might not make front pages of newspapers or TV News bulletins, but it makes lifetime impressions on the people you serve. A change agent of note who came before you and made a sterling contribution to humanity, Mother Theresa once said: “never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest to you.”
This is what the Men for Change movement has been doing inside the SAPS and outside the SAPS providing support to those who can not stand on their own. The basis for the formation of the Men for Change movement was to fight the scourge of Gender Based Violence in our province.
In the early 90s, The World Bank report on health, highlighted gender-based violence as a priority public health concern, particularly among women. Colleagues, GBV has grown past the stage of being a public health concern, it is now a second pandemic as alluded to by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his 2020 Women’s Day Address to the nation. Think of the mortality associated with assault on women, its long-term effect on their physical and mental health, think of gynecological problems rape victims go through particularly children, think of the sexually transmitted diseases, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide and other thoughts that women go through.
The fourth quarter statistics released recently by the Minister of Police indicate that incidents of GBV are on the rise particulalry sexual offences. That means women and children are on the receiving end of this heinous crime. Consequently, Lusikisiki has been declared the rape capital of South Africa. When we drill down on why there is a rise in numbers in Lusikisiki, we discover that reporting by victims of uKuthwala is improving and that is a result of education awareness campaigns led by SAPS and stakeholders such as Men for Change on the illegality of the custom of uKuthwala.
Under our constitutional democracy which promotes rights of all citizens, the customary practice of uKuthwala has been declared to be a criminal offence and has been incorporated into the Trafficking in Persons Act.
The criminalization of the customary practice of uKuthwala is long overdue and is in line with the value system that is espoused in our Constitution, of building a non-sexist and prosperous society based on justice, equality, the rule of law and the inalienable human rights for all. Ukuthwala is one of the patriarchal customs of our country that have disempowered women and violated their freedoms for generations and has no place in a society based on the principles of equality.
We challenge the Men for Change movement to be vigorous in its education awareness drive in Lusikisiki to transform the mindset of men in that society and make them understand that uKuthwala is now outlawed and constitutes a rape charge. The mistake we make as government is to assume that people know what is wrong and we discover much later that they do not, hence they act in an unlawful manner. We must therefore stop making assumptions and invest more time in educating our communities about right and wrong.
Late former President Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” When Madiba made this profound statement, I am certain he was not only referring to the importance of people acquiring degrees, but was also intimating that people who have knowledge should empower those who do not have knowledge to transform their minds and make the world a better place to live in.
Change is not something that is easy to adapt to, and it will be difficult for the communities that have been practicing uKuthwala to change, but they must change. Awareness campaigns are going to play a critical role in this regard. Our message must be clear that uKuthwala is illegal and constitutes a rape charge. Rape is one crime that we must commit to do everything possible to prevent in our province, because for victims of rape the scars are a lifetime.
Apart from GBV, there are other crimes that we would like the Men for Change movement to be seized with in our communities. There is a developing trend of using violence and destruction of property during protests in our communities. All of us including the Men for Change movement should be concerned by this phenomenon and act accordingly to prevent it. I know that some of these protests are a result of absent leadership in our communities, but it is the duty of government and movements such as Men for Change to step in and be the voice of reason. Before we are leaders in government and members of Men for Change, we are community members in our own right. We cannot therefore fold arms and watch when genuine community concerns are used to destroy existing public infrastructure.
We also need the voice of Men for Change on the issue of substance abuse. Drug and alcohol abuse by young people has reached epidemic proportions, not just here in the Eastern Cape but across South Africa.
The number of youths implicated in a-life-of-crime and criminality is unacceptably high, we know this because our correctional facilities are full of young people, the majority of whom are black African males. The young impressionable minds of our youth are under an unprecedented onslaught by the false advertising and glamourizing of alcohol and drugs and their associated lifestyles, as being ideal and located in the futures that our children should aspire towards. We need a counter narrative to this, and it is organizations such as the Men for Change that should champion that counter narrative alongside government, to save our youth and save the future of our country. Most of us in this room are fathers and brothers to young men and we should be concerned about the kind of fathers they would be if their lifestyles are characterized by drugs and alcohol abuse.
I am certain all of us are aware of the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy of government. That strategy is a blueprint to prevent and combat all forms of crime in our country and has six pillars which are:
· An effective criminal justice system
· Early interventions
· Victim support
· Effective and Integrated service delivery for safety, security, and violence
· Safety through environmental design and
· Active public and community participation.
This strategy is at our disposal for us to take the fight against crime to criminals. I would like the Men for Change movement to locate its Programme of Action for the next 3 years in this Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy of government. That would be in line with the DDM model of government which encourages integration.
As I depart the stage let me once again reiterate that we rely on you as the ANC led government to be our trusted partner to build safe communities in our province. May the resolutions of this AGM reflect a movement that truly wants to effect positive change in the lives of our people. As Mathma Ghandi once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”