August, women’s month in South Africa, drew to a close yesterday one is drawn to reflect on South Africa under the presidency of Jacob Zuma and whether the government is committed to our much vaunted liberal constitution said to contain the most liberal human rights in the world.
During ‘women’s month’ we have been subjected to two high profile examples of violence against women and several other acts with sparse, if any action from the Zuma government or law enforcement agencies.
The first incident occurred at about 03h00 on Monday 7 September when Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana who with some friends assaulted a woman outside the Cubana restaurant in Fourways, Johannesburg.
The young woman, Mandisa Duma was with her friend and cousin at the restaurant‚ she claimed that she was with Manana and his four friends inside the Cubana when Manana chased them out of the venue.
The victim explained “They kicked me and they punched me and pulled my hair… My cousin Thando was also ‘klapped’, they pulled her hair. My friend was thrown around when she tried to come and help me.”
Fortunately another patron in the restaurant made a video clip of the incident which was circulated on social media on Monday morning where it went viral.
Duma opened a case at the Douglasdale police station in northern Johannesburg, close to where the incident took place. When questioned on Monday morning the Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula reported that Manana has denied involvement, despite the clip doing the rounds on social media in which a man said to be him admits to the assault.
Eventually on Tuesday Deputy Minister of Higher Education and training, Mduduzi Manana apologised for assaulting a woman and believed that “an apology is enough to fix the damage”.
Even after admitting to the assault Manana was not arrested. Police Minister Mbalula justified this action because “Manana was not a flight risk”. It appears that still no action has been reported as having been taken against his three associates who were seen assisting him to drag the three women out of the restaurant.
Manana was never arrested but sneaked in and out of the Randburg Magistrates Court via a back entrance on Thursday 8 August where he was charged with two charges of ‘assault with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm’. Suspects usually use the main entrance during their first appearance‚ unless they had already been arrested and would be brought up from the holding cells.
Manana is now out on bail of R5 000 and is due to appear in court again on 13 September. In the meantime you can bet your bottom dollar that his lawyers are hard at work trying to negotiate a plea bargain to minimise the exposure of this women beater who deserves a prison sentence.
The mind boggles to think that after admitting to the assault, being charged and appearing in court the president did not fire him from the cabinet – but only on Friday 17 August he resigned from the cabinet yet remains an ANC member of parliament. Zuma’s only comment has been a short statement from the Presidency that “The President has thanked Mr. Manana for his contribution to the work of government during his term of office.”
If this is not enough the President of the ANC Women’s League Bathabile Dlamini (the minister responsible for the recent grants fiasco) proclaimed that Mduduzi Manana should not be held accountable for assaulting a woman because there are others in government who have done worse things.
This is the woman who is actively campaigning to have a woman elected as president yet she supports an alleged woman-beater.
No sooner had the dust started to settle and Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, was accused of assaulting a young woman at an upscale Johannesburg hotel Sunday 13 August.
Ms. Gabriella Engels, a 20 year old model, accused Ms. Mugabe of assaulting her with an electrical extension cord while she was visiting her two sons, Robert Jnr and Chatunga in a top Johannesburg hotel a week ago. Engels said that Ms. Mugabe’s bodyguards stood by and watched.
Ms. Engels posted several photos on social media showing a gash in her forehead that she said was caused by Mrs. Mugabe. Engels laid charges against Mrs Mugabe after she had her face stitched up in hospital.
Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula said in a video that Grace Mugabe appeared voluntarily at a police station on Tuesday 15 August. She was not placed under arrest “because she cooperated and handed herself over,” Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula said adding that she was scheduled to appear in court later on Tuesday.
Needless to say she failed to appear in court and went into hiding, probably in the Zimbabwe High Commission.
Mrs. Mugabe arrived in South Africa where she was reported to be treated for an ankle injury, sustained during a road accident during July. As this was a private visit she did not qualify for diplomatic immunity.
Robert Mugabe who was due to attend a SADC conference over the weekend arrived at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, two days early, apparently as the knight in silver armour to arrange immunity for his wife.
Amnesty was officially announced late on Saturday and the Mugabes left South Africa early on Sunday Morning.
The immunity was granted after she arrived in South Africa on private business more than a week before. This was clearly a political decision not based on legal principles. Hence AfriForum has a judicial review of the matter and the DA has applies for direct access to the Constitutional Court based on the Al Bashir ruling on immunity.
ANC double standards and hypocrisy in open to full scrutiny:-
? Mduduzi Manana was not arrested because he was not a flight risk.
? Grace Mugabe was a flight risk but also was not arrested.
? ANC Member of Parliament and a member of the Parliamentary Justice Committee Loyiso Mpumlwana defended Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe’s alleged beating of a young South African woman with an electrical cord because it is acceptable in African culture to beat up young people who are misbehaving. He is yet to be rebuked by anyone in the ANC leadership.
? The Minister of international relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (the person who publicly acknowledged that she has a hole in her head) claims to have agonised over her decision to grant Grace immunity, the only agonising was whether to do the right thing or keep her job – guess what she decided?
Although two high profile cases are discussed above during this month we have also had:-
? Robert Mc Bride the head of the Independent Police Investigative Direct charged for assaulting his daughter and released on bail of R10 000 on 31 August 2017.
? Businessman Sazi Fakude, a close companion of Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, has been accused of raping a young woman he allegedly abducted from a Sandton nightclub (News 24 28 August 2017)
? Despite a senior Member of the Cabinet Bathabile Dlamini saying that there are others in government who have done worse things than Mduduzi Manana President Zuma told parliament that he knows nothing about it.
In a country where physical and other forms of abuse of women have reached epidemic proportions, it is sad that we have leaders who place so little value on women that they are prepared to let a foreigner come into the country and beat up a South African citizen and let her leave from the country’s premier Air Force base.
Roll on 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence which ends on 10 December (International Human Rights Day). Things must improve, surely they cannot get worse?
Until next time…
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former Mpumalanga DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.