Staff Reporter - August 19, 2020

To mark National Women’s Day on Sunday 9 August, Dunoon women braved the rain and took to the streets to raise awareness about violence against women and children. Carrying placards which read: ‘Enough with gender-based violence’, ‘Real men don’t abuse’, and ‘No mercy for rapists’, the women marched to Killarney Gardens and turned back at the Dunoon Community Health Centre about five kilometres from the township. Some of the placards had red hand prints symbolising blood. Some women also wore t-shirts stained with red hand prints. National Women’s Day is celebrated on 9 August every year as part of Women’s Month, which commemorates the heroic 1956 women’s march to the union buildings against draconian pass laws and their impact on women.

Dunoon neighbourhood watch coordinator Noluthando Ludziya, who arranged the march, said she was prompted to organise the march on Women’s Day because nothing is happening to cases of rape and gender-based violence in the township. Ludziya said for example, a pensioner who was living in Ethembeni informal settlement had allegedly been raping a 13-year-old child since she was ten. The pensioner (62) was arrested and remanded in custody at the end of July. She said the community got to know about the alleged rape after the child sought advice from her neighbour after releasing vaginal discharge. It was at this point the neighbour asked questions and found out what had been happening to the girl. Also, in July, Ludziya says a young man from Site 5 was arrested after allegedly repeatedly raping a 64-year-old pensioner. In the same month, a woman was also raped after she set out to walk to the Dunoon taxi rank, she said.

“A lot of women suffer in silence. They don’t come out. We want to encourage them to come out. We want to fight gender-based violence. We hope there is someone out there willing to support us.” The Women’s Day march also highlighted the need for a mobile police station in Dunoon. “Police are invisible, more especially in the morning,” she said. Yamkela Mbulana, a mother of three children who lives in Dunoon’s Thembeni informal settlement, said she took part in the march because she was “tired of being silenced, of feeling helpless and waiting for my turn”.

“I decided it was time I took part in steering to a direction where as a woman I can feel safe again, where our children will not grow up into a world where women are not safe,” said Mbulana. Milnerton police station commander Brigadier Marius Stander confirmed that a case of rape and sexual grooming is being investigated in respect of two victims, aged 13 and 17. Stander said the accused is 66-years-old and was arrested on 25 July, with his first court appearance having been on 27 July. He said the accused has not pleaded yet, but according to the investigator, the accused made a few admissions in his warning statement. The man will appear in court again on 9 September for a bail hearing, which will be opposed, said Stander.

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