Minister Marais' Speech at the Gender-based Violence and Femicide Debate | Western Cape Government



Minister Marais' Speech at the Gender-based Violence and Femicide Debate

17 September 2019




Speaker, each year during the month of August, the nation focuses on particular areas that are of concern to women and the girl child. It is no secret that Women’s month 2019 was no celebration and the detrimental implications of gender based violence and femicide were foregrounded as thousands publicly protested against the patriarchal ideology still oppressing women and the girl child in the constitutional democracy that is South Africa.

Speaker, contrary to the popular belief, gender discrimination is not a women’s issue to be engaged on by women only, but it is a global problem, and closer to home, a South African dilemma which requires us all, particularly men to do better because, sadly, men are more likely to listen to men.

It is pivotal to urgently unite in challenging, dismantling and transforming the systematic, institutional and ideological patriarchy that still oppress women and the girl child as it is literally a matter of life or death. A paradigm shift and call to action is much needed. Speaker, what we are experiencing now is the symptoms of a long erupting crisis, however, the cause, is the root problem which urgently requires a whole of society approach to holistically tackle the patriarchal structures perpetuating systematic gender discrimination and inequalities which is still institutionally accepted, maintained and mainstreamed long after emancipation and 25 years into our legitimate democracy.

Speaker, the reality is women live in a constant state of fear, in an unsafe warzone, killed, raped, assaulted, insulted, avoided and stigmatized day in and day out. It is no wonder we feel, think and now finally ask out loud, AM I NEXT? It is now a blessing to make it home in one piece after surviving the abundance of traumatic experiences lived through as a woman imposed upon us and particularly so, by men.  Speaker, a truth of the matter is, we live in a society where doing what is morally right is for weaklings because if you live in a world of scoundrels and delinquency, you take pride in wrongdoing, misconduct and antisocial behaviour as it is all you know. 

However, Speaker, I refuse to be defeated by this status quo because I have witnessed first-hand, time and again, how through sport, arts and cultural affairs, lives are completely turned around from at risk to filled with potential as behavourial change is the foundation. Yet and still, this alternate is second to a life of crime, devastating choices made as a result of hegemonic conditioning in not questioning the way things are such as the existing rape culture, palpable patriarchy, overt sexism and female abuse by the minute.

Most striking about the responses to the protest against gender based violence and femicide is the oblivious “What can we do? What can I do?”. Speaker, in reply, I would suggest you contact the Clifford Martinus’s, the Bongani Mathisos, the Ricky De Reucks, the Sergio Van der Ross’, the Nigel Savels, the Shaquil Southgates, the Emile Jansens and the Ernesto Loves and likeminded partners in our communities. These men, all in the gallery today, would be happy to involve you in their behavourial change programmes, radically shifting mind-sets from fatal destruction to hope inspired self-empowerment, community upliftment through understanding our contextual framework and offering alternative lifestyles in safe spaces, capacitating those we serve in our most vulnerable communities.

Speaker, selflessly addressing the cause to the symptoms, Mr Cliffy Martinus and Bongani Mathiso, in partnership with formidable women such as Anthea Martinus, drive the Oasis Place: Linking Lives Together organisation in Philippi catering to the surrounding areas of Parkwood, Lotus River, Grassy Park, to name a few and extended as far as Bredasdorp and Swellendam, nationally and with esteemed international partners in the Homeless Street Soccer World Cup circles using street soccer to instil life-skills, coaching, mentoring and grooming to become better versions of the delinquent men in their communities. 

With mutual objectives and success stories in abundance, Ricky De Reuck and Sergio Van der Ross drive the YMCA Cape Flats organisation, also in consultation with his wife. YMCA Cape Flats, based central to Strandfontein and Mitchell’s Plain, offers self-empowerment programmes through soccer, drilling squads, accredited skills courses, awareness campaigns and youth camps amongst others and maintains a safe recreational space to afford vulnerable youth the opportunities needed to become positive agents of change.

Around the corner, and co-founded by Nigel Savel and his equally determined wife Sherniel Savel, is the 9miles Project: Going the Distance, based at Strandfontein Pavilion, boasting the biggest tidal pool in the Southern Hemisphere and now fully established in Elands Bay and St Francis Bay. Proactively engaging surrounding communities, the 9miles Project envisions a transformed society, where created opportunities are maximised and our youth in coastal informal settlements are effectively developed, empowered and integrated into their communities and society through surfing and swimming, while making provision for economic development through their acquired crafts.

Speaker, Mr Emile Jansen, who is also our National Book Week ambassador, and Shaquil Southgate live the Heal the Hood brand. The Heal the Hood Project was created in 1998 by Emile Jansen of “Black Noise” one of South Africa’s pioneering rap groups. The focus of the organisation came about by the realization of the importance of interaction between various communities and ploughing back into our communities. Emile then included all the community outreach projects he was initiating in Black Noise as part of Heal the Hood Project and thus expanding the concept of putting back. The Each One Teach one methodology coupled with Do for Self-Concerts and principles helped lay the foundation for this.  They have come a long way in providing holistic youth activities, information that addresses community issues and creates a sense of self-worth to help them become active participants in a democratic society, while creating a sustainable network of youth artists nationally and internationally through which jobs and new skills are created, arts products and arts related information can be distributed.

Speaker, Mr Ernesto Love is the epitome of once you get out, positively give back. Equipped with his own lived experience with incarceration, traumatic realities and willed rehabilitation, Ernesto now drives constructive youth development programmes creating awareness and shaping perception through sport participation, advocacy and mentorship with prisoners as they confront their transgressions, understand its destructive nature and seek behaviorial change mechanisms to the benefit of a healthy society.

Speaker, the golden thread dovetailing these organisations is their purposive vision to disrupt the status quo through arts, cultural affairs and sport while creating economic opportunities to render at risk beings an asset to the upliftment, empowerment and reconciliation of our vulnerable communities to augment its sense of safety, belonging and pride. These organisations serve as dispatches from the frontline. Speaker, if only our now plundered national coffers allowed, as a province we would be able to invest more in the arts, cultural affairs and sport as our Chief Cultural Director always reminds, we would not have a public outcry for the army, if we simply deployed a well-resourced Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport.   

The nature of our business plays an impactful role in shaping, framing, communicating and influencing the future. In fact, according to the South African Cultural Observatory, “It is our responsibility to reflect, question, resist, review and rebuild when and where necessary”. Our department has made great strides in implementing a reimagined future in trying times, but we will fail in our objectives without our hardworking officials, passionate partners and resilient non-governmental and non-profit organisations.

Speaker, concerted efforts need to be made to equip the present and future generations with the ability to empathise, imagine, and create, and the key to develop these abilities is a life-long education that is interdisciplinary, cross-functional, cross-industry and cross-cultural. It is therefore pivotal to integrate the arts, cultural affairs and sport into the education system and societal discourse as it will indeed reduce the skills gap that the next generation is facing, and subsequently prepare the leaders of tomorrow.

Being prepared to deal with the controversial narratives taking centre stage now ensures that we can fully engage in the conversations that shape the future of our societies. Our united response to this paralysing crisis can either make our society more sustainable and inclusive, or they can intensify the divisions in our world. Speaker, to be able to engage with our communities, our administrative competency should be capacitated as optimally as possible as the business of our department is right at the core of ideological processes, to enlighten, guide and support these dialogues.  We must engage the full spectrum of human understanding, and every one of us must participate in strengthening our cultural resources, all the time.

Today more than ever, cultural affairs and sport are essential to build a contextual framework to make sense of the dialogues at the core of gender based violence and femicide. The arts, culture and sport build trust, the trust needed to bridge conflicting views and interests, to overcome current barriers and obstacles with dynamic and innovative approaches, and to understand the values that are embedded in any process of societal progress.

Together, we are in the business of rebuilding a broken nation, inspiring hope and motivating better versions of those we serve through cultural manifestation and creating an enabling environment in which it can flourish. We pledge our support to the protest against gender-based violence and femicide. We are in mourning for all women who did not get the chance to achieve all they dreamed of. We will never forget because as Chimamanda Adichie reminds, “Feminism is the radical idea that women’s safety is more important than men’s feelings”. While great strides have been made to empower women, a serious cause for concern is who is preparing men for these empowered women?

I thank you

Media Enquiries: 
Stacy McLean

Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171