2 year anniversary of the Marikana massacre – watch the film

By Jen Thorpe

For this weekend only, you can watch Miners Shot Down on YouTube. This film is incredible, enraging, painful, but most of all necessary. It is necessary to watch and reflect on our own relations to capital. It is necessary to watch and reflect on culpability, accountability, state violence, and the state of our freedom. Please watch it.

Lizl Morden

Women, sports and the media

Lizl Morden
Lizl Morden

by Lizl Morden

I am not a sports fan by any means, I am such not a sports fan that I refer to football as soccer. What I do know about sports fits into one of three categories: news, general knowledge or world cup – I get really into world cups. So I rely heavily on media coverage of sport to keep me informed.

How many female athletes can you name? I am ashamed to say I can name more male soccer players than total female athletes. Of the female athletes you thought of, how many of those are tennis players? They somehow seem to be the female athletes that get the most media attention. A quick glance at the sports pages of news sites would lead one to believe that female athletes are either swimmers or tennis players. And volleyball players (cos y’know… bikinis). Naturally, the other times women are included in the sports-related pages are as hot spectators, cheerleaders or WAGs.

Those same news sites don’t even have categories for the more ‘traditional’ female sports such as hockey and netball. And the ratio of male/female athlete-related articles is shocking; I estimate that saying that even 10% of coverage is about female athletes is an overstatement.

The only reason I even ever started questioning how much I know about female athletes is that there was a mini profile of several female South African celebrities that included this woman I have never seen or heard of. And who turned out to be the captain of SA’s (female) soccer team! Simply shameful. I at least knew at some point who the captains were of men’s cricket, rugby and soccer, but never of women’s.

I said world cup was one of my sources of sport information; isn’t it interesting that I didn’t have to say men’s world cup? It’s implied. What about the women? They also worked hard and deserve media time which would, hopefully, equal support and sponsors. Lack of media attention can have serious consequences for female athletes, such as fewer sponsors because they don’t get much media, which means less pay. For some teams that even means unequal treatment in terms of transport. It’s time our sport-inclined sisters broke through that glass stadium roof and they can’t do it on their own.

To give you an idea of general sports coverage, the current categories on Sport24 include:

  • home
  • rugby
  • cricket
  • soccer
  • golf
  • tennis
  • motorsport
  • other sport (athletics and cycling)

On 10 June 2014 there was one featured article on one of those pages with a woman pictured.  The ‘other sport’ page had a women’s hockey team featured on top.

And the attention given to female athletes on the sports’ associations’ sites is only marginally better. On the South African Rugby Union website the categories include:

  • The Boks.
  • SA Teams – Springbok sevens, SA under 20 and SA women.
  • Tournaments – there are 15 main tournament categories, of which ‘women’ is one. ‘Women’ has the subcategories: IRB sevens and interprovincial A and B. Another one of the categories is ‘youth weeks’, which has 5 week-long tournaments, none of which include the word ‘girls’ or similar.

On the SAFA site, they have categories for the both the men and women’s teams for seniors, u20 and u17. Of the seven (outdated) competitions listed under the competitions tab, one is for women and that is the Women’s Regional League. Here are some interesting things I learned on this website: Banyana Banyana had their international debut only one year after Bafana Bafana; Banyana participated in the 2012 olympics and Bafana didn’t; on the national team’s soccer website Banyana doesn’t even have a ranking or a team history while, unsurprisingly, Bafana does.

On the Cricket SA website women’s cricket has its own main category. However, looking at the development section, one of  the 15 development programmes is aimed at girls. ONE.

And we wonder why people believe that women’s sport isn’t “as fun to watch” because women are “slower”. It’s because we are not given equal opportunities to develop, there are far fewer tournaments and, let’s face it, unequal reward. If you/we want equal development and recognition for our female athletes then I’m going to guess it would mean equal effort, development opportunities, resources and coverage.

I’m not a big fan of sports stars getting paid exorbitant amounts of money but I’m even less of a fan of pay inequality. This is a real issue. Both sexes put a lot of effort, exercise and discipline into being the best and only the men become stinking rich celebrities while their partners are in the pages of tabloids dedicated to WAGs. I’ve never heard of a HAB (husband and boyfriend), have you? (Heteronormative, I know, but that’s worth another few hundred words…)

Equal pay; equal treatment; equal media coverage. I may not be the biggest supporter of any sex’s athletes or teams but I’m sure our female athletes and their fans will appreciate it.


Also read: Springbok squad announced for Women’s Rugby World Cup

Also read: Is it really a ‘world’ cup when women don’t have the same opportunities

Also read: Alert: Today’s female FIFA World Cup soccer fan

Jen Thorpe

An ordinary evening


Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

On a Thursday evening not so long ago I decided to stop by Woolies on the way home. I got off the train earlier, got some groceries, and undertook the walk from Claremont to my house in Harfield. I had underestimated the weather. It was howling with wind and I spent most of the journey trying to hold onto my long coat and my shopping bag. It took me longer than usual and so it was darker than I would have liked when I got to the street nearest to my house.

In the distance I saw a couple walking towards me. They were walking beside one another but I could see that they were arguing without being able to hear them. Their body language told me that they were intoxicated. They were stumbling, he in battered down jeans and a muddy jersey, carrying a big bag; her in a grey track suit with a beanie on, hands in her pockets.

As we drew closer to one another, me on one side of the street, them on the other, I could hear their shouts more clearly. They spoke Afrikaans, a language that imbued a ‘fuck you’ with a forceful f and cutting k. He was screaming it at her as she stumbled behind him shouting back. Just as they passed she shouted ‘fuck this. I don’t want to be with you anymore. I don’t want to sleep on the streets. I want to go home.’ I slowed down worried about what was going to happen.

He turned to her, without fear or worry about who was watching, and body slammed her into a four by four. Before I could shout, he stood back and began to kick and knee her in the stomach. His movements and violence seemed practiced, routine, methodical. He didn’t even stop to put down his bag. This was not the first time he had silenced someone by hurting them. This was not the first time he had kicked a woman.

As I shouted and started to cross the road towards them he pulled a bottle from his bag and raised it up to strike her. I was in the middle of the street by this stage and still screaming but he showed no signs of stopping. At that point I experienced time drawn out and elongated. I had a lengthy split second of wondering whether I would keep walking and get between them, and if I did what would happen.

I was saying to myself as my feet kept moving, well at least if I get between them and he hits me, it will be more likely that he would be arrested. After all, he doesn’t know me. The police wouldn’t be able to write it off as a domestic dispute. They wouldn’t be able to ignore his violence as something ‘private’ or ‘explicable’. It would have to be recognized for what it was. Assault.

A car pulled up next to them and a man jumped out. The man withdrew his bottle from above his head. Others came from the restaurants around the street. We all began to shout, telling the man to stop and the woman to walk away. She wanted to follow him. She began to follow him, all the while crying and shouting ‘please phone the police, he hits me all the time. Please’.

The crowd begged her to walk the other way. We moved closer, sensing that the violence was, for this few minutes at least, at bay. We got closer telling her it was her chance to leave and go home. That she shouldn’t follow him. Eventually she turned and started to walk in the direction they had just come from. He, full of bravado, shouted after her, swearing at her all the while. Threatening her.

His bravado angered the crowd, in particular the men who had gathered. They shouted at him to move along, that they would ‘moer’ him if he tried to follow her. I watched the violence and anger in them so easily come forward and wondered where they normally channeled it. I began to call the police, and watched as he turned, now bored with the attention from the onlookers, and slowly walked away.

The police took his description and the name of the road he had walked down. They didn’t take my details before they hung up. I have no idea what happened to either of them. I wonder what happened to her. Did she sleep alone on the streets that night, or did she look for him? Was she able to find shelter?

Women’s shelters and NGOs in the Western Cape and across the country have faced funding cuts for the past few years. Many of them have had to close down or severely restrict the services they provide. One shelter, Sisters Incorporated, ran at a loss in 2011, 2012, and in 2013 operated on only two months worth of reserve costs at any one time. Organisations like Rape Crisis have also publicised frequent financial challenges.

This is not because of competition between NGOS, or because the State is providing sufficient services on its own, but because of severe cut backs in funding to those NGOs from the Government. Between 2010 and 2013, 100 jobs were lost between just 17 organizations. And the job losses are not the only losses – that means that those organizations were not able to deliver full services to the women that needed them. Many survived on the efforts of volunteers and dedicated staff, but what about the ones that had to close down? What happened to all of the women who would have used their services?


Call For Abstracts: 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium- Men And Boys For Gender Justice

The 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium- Men and Boys for Gender Justice will be held in New Delhi, India from 10th- 13th November 2014. We are pleased to announce that the deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended to 15 June 2014.

Please hurry and send in your abstract forms!

The Abstracts may be in English, Hindi, French or Spanish. The details of registration and other rules and fees can be read in the FAQs online at

The abstracts will need to be submitted around the seven interdisciplinary key tracks of the Symposium:

1. Violence
2. Health and Wellbeing
3. Poverty and Work
4. Sexualities, Identities
5. Care, Relationships and Emotions
6. Peace building
7. Making of Men – from masculinity to humanity

You can read more about the seven tracks from the Symposium’s website

Please get in touch with the Symposium Secretariat at for any queries or comments.

First seen on the AWID website here



Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Joint Press Statement by the Social Justice Coalition, Equal Education and Ndifuna Ukwazi


On 2 and 3 June 2014 a few hundred residents of Cape Town watched their homes being demolished in Lwandle, near Strand. An area as large as six soccer fields was cleared of its human inhabitants.

We have been at Lwandle/Nomzamo these past two days and we feel disappointed and angry. Poor and working class families were pushed behind barbed wire to watch their homes being destroyed. These evictions initiated by SANRAL have left hundreds destitute.

16-year old Xolelwa Pupu, a grade 9 student at Khanyolwethu Secondary School, is a member of Equal Education’s province-wide Leadership Committee. Her home was destroyed on Monday. She is currently writing exams, but sleeping in a community hall in Lwandle. Seventeen students in a similar position have approached EE for assistance.

No Eviction Order was ever granted by a court for the removal of these people. Rather, an Interim Interdict was granted on 24 January against those “intending to occupy” the land. It specifically excluded those “currently occupying the property at the date of the granting of this order”. The Interim Interdict was granted ex parte (without the residents being heard) on the very same day the application was filed. The interim interdict was then extended three times. In terms of the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act (PIE) evictions require an eviction order, not an interdict. (A judgment of the Constitutional Court is presently pending on this very question. See SERI’s heads of argument.)

Premier Helen Zille has tweeted that

“Neither the Province nor the City received prior notice of this eviction”.

But in order for this to have been a legal eviction the Act requires that: “The court must send written and effective notice of the proceedings on the unlawful occupier and the municipality having jurisdiction.” In any case, the City prompted SANRAL into action, as shown by a letter sent by the City to SANRAL on 22 January. The letter preceded the Interim Interdict by two days. The City’s letter said that the structures “were erected without consent”.  The City’s letter then gives SANRAL fourteen days “to rectify the situation”. The letter then cites section 6(5) of the Act which refers to when “an organ of state gives the owner or person in charge of land notice … to institute proceedings for eviction”. In other words, SANRAL were put to terms by the City to evict the occupants.

The application for an interdict by SANRAL did not attach any plans for the N2 development. Rather it attached the City’s letter and letters from better-off South Africans who objected to “squatters”.

Evictions are sometimes necessary for legitimate development purposes. When this is the case there is still a need to provide temporary shelter. In 2011 the Constitutional Court held in the Blue Moonlight Properties case that the City of Johannesburg had the duty to provide emergency housing for evicted people, despite the eviction having been brought by a private company on private land. This same moral and constitutional duty therefore now falls on the City of Cape Town — it has largely failed to fulfil it.

All of the above means that the eviction in Lwandle was unlawful.

The Constitution says in section 26(3):

“No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.”

Action must be taken by the City to provide emergency accommodation to affected residents. When it was pointed out to SANRAL’s Vusi Mona that the people are facing harsh rain he called this a “red herring”. This typifies the callousness of both SANRAL and the City during the past few days. Snow is now forecast nearby. We are not calling for the evicted residents to jump the housing queue but to be given temporary accommodation. The City’s claim that receiving temporary shelter equates to jumping the housing queue is a real red herring.

We welcome the opening of the community hall by the City, and the provision of food and blankets by Disaster Relief. But hundreds of people cannot be hygienically accommodated in a hall on an ongoing basis. We welcome the apology by Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, the Minister responsible for SANRAL, and her commitment that people will be allowed to return to the land, but we intend to insist that this commitment be made in writing.

We have set up an emergency relief drop-off point to assist the affected families. Anyone willing to help with relief such as non-perishable food, water-proof clothes, and baby supplies may drop these off at The Bookery, Plein Park, 63-89, Plein Street in Cape Town, between 8h00 and 18h30, every day this week.

For further information please contact:

Dustin Kramer (SJC Deputy Gen Sec) 083 674 0552

Nishal Robb (EE Head of Campaigns) 079 511 6790

Axolile Notywala (SJC Project Manager) 074 386 1584

Nombulelo Nyathela (EE Spokesperson) 060 503 4933