Memorial service for murdered women

FIGHT TOGETHER: Masimanyane Women’s Rights International executive director Dr Lesley Ann Foster addresses the seriousness and scourge with femicide in SA. Picture: AMANDA NANO

An emotionally charged and sombre memorial service was held at Downtown Christian Church last Friday in East London by Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, in the wake of the brutal deaths of three local women.

The memorial service was in remembrance of victims of femicide, including Angelique Clark- Abrahams, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels and Uyinene Mrwetyana.

Masimanyane executive director Dr Lesley Ann Foster said it was a shame that it had taken so long to stand up and fight.

“There is a lack of accountability within state structures and government needs to be held accountable. We need to be safe and protected, to live without fear,” Foster said.

She said femicide was an extreme expression of inequality and violence, and this needed to be addressed as lack of justice lead to continued impunity.

Foster also said over 3,700 women had been killed in 2017, with 69 killed in the last 30 days. SA has the highest incidents of femicide in the world.

Lerato Mfazwe said at the service there had been a large increase in violent crimes against women and children.

“I’m tired of what is happening in the country and I would like to see justice served. There are so many stats but nothing is being done – there needs to be a change in the laws.” Mfazwe said.

Mluleki July said he came out to support the memorial and that “enough is enough”.

The Eastern Cape crime statistics released in September 2018 showed that there was a 13% decrease in sexual offences crimes over 10 years, from the 2008-09 to 2017-18 financial years.

Sexual offences include rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences.

Rape was at 8,212 in 2013-14 and at 6,821 in 2017-18. Sexual assault crimes were 805 during the 2017-18 period.

Former arts and culture deputy minister Ntombazana Botha said she believed that until we confronted issues head on, there was no political will.

“Politics and patriarchy are alive and well when you look at those at the helm of political parties.” Botha said.

A stern Masimanyane deputy director Rev Christopher Harper said a war has been declared in SA by men who laid siege to women’s bodies on battle grounds such the home, streets and workplace.

“Our responsibility as men is to stop the violence perpetrated by us, know what we want to stand for and who we stand with,” he said.

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