GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

#NotOurLeaders Jihad Mohapi and 4 Others

NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

For release: Late Wednesday 6 December 2017

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO….?

CASE 10: Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, Free State representative to the National Council of Provinces and chair of the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs

In February 2015 Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, chair of the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Select Committee in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was charged with assaulting his former girlfriend. According to a journalist who had access to the photographs, the woman’s injuries included a blue eye and bruising to most of her upper chest region, the upper part of one arm, as well as one thigh. Mohapi handed himself over to the police and was charged with assault, kidnapping and crimen injuria. The fate of the criminal case is unknown.

Parliament’s Ethics Committee reported on 16 March 2016 that the Mohapi matter was referred for further investigation to a subcommittee, with a hearing scheduled for April 2016. It is likely there were no meaningful consequences as Mohapi remains the chair of COGTA and is also a member of the Select Committees on Petitions and Executive Undertakings, along with Security and Justice.

Like Mduduzi Manana (#NotOurLeaders Case 9), Mohapi is a MP who experiences no disconnect between his public duties and private conduct. While Manana was leading dialogues on gender-based violence on university campuses at the time he assaulted three women, the Select Committee in the NCOP that Mohapi chairs was exercising parliamentary oversight of the Department for Women in both 2015 and 2016. In 2016, the year of parliament’s investigation into Mohapi’s conduct, the Select Committee dealt with reports from the Commission for Gender Equality too. (Neither body appeared before the Select Committee in 2017 though.)

“Right now there’s a great deal of emphasis on getting men to take up the problem of violence against women,” said the Women and Democracy Initiative’s Vivienne Mentor Lalu. “But appointing men to powerful political positions in order to champion matters of gender equality purely on the basis that they are men is naïve – even dangerous – when it is not accompanied by careful scrutiny of their conduct and history in this field.”

Forgetting violence in peri-urban and rural area?

Mohapi Jihad Mohapi’s case is not the only one to disappear quietly. These four rape cases reported between 2013 and 2016 have all disappeared equally quietly.

  • Unnamed ANC Councillor, North West – Arrested after being accused of raping a 13-year old girl in March 2013. This may have been Benjamin Khoza of Moretele, who was reportedly suspended from the ANC subsequent to the criminal charges being laid against him. In 2015 the Sosh Times reported the case as still ongoing. No information on the case’s eventual outcome could be located.
  • Unnamed ANC Councillor, Devland Gauteng – accused of raping his 10-year-old daughter in November 2013. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
  • Unnamed DA Councillor, Buffalo City Metro, Eastern Cape – In February 2015 the media reported that the councilor had been arrested, but not yet charged with the rape of his former girlfriend. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
  • Unnamed ANC member campaigning to be nominee in the 2016 local elections, Vryburg, North West – charged with the rape of a 14-year old girl. To its credit, the local branch of ANC Women’s League protested his actions vigorously, including outside court. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located. It is also unknown whether or not he went on to stand as a local councilor.

“What each of today’s cases have in common is their invisibility” said Lisa Vetten. She identifies this invisibility as occurring on at least two levels:

“The first has to do with the absence of violent images of these crimes. Mduduzi Manana’s violence, along with images of the women’s injuries, was broadcast across Twitter and beyond. These visuals playing a considerable role in provoking a public outcry over Manana’s conduct. But in Jihad Mohapi’s case, the photographic evidence of his violence remained within the confines the police docket. This surely contributed to the near non-existent response to his behavior, including by the general public.”

A second factor contributing to the invisibility of these cases, she said, is their perpetration by men based within provincial and local political structures: “Because they hold a relatively low-level, unglamorous status within the hierarchy of our democratic institutions, provincial and local structures and their staff attract far less public interest than their national counterparts.”

Vetten also highlights how

“A great many of these reports come from peri-urban and rural communities where social and traditional media almost never go and help is often absent. In these forgotten corners of our democracy, political position seems less open to critical scrutiny – so magnifying its power, which is further entrenched by networks of patronage and protection. Further, in small or rural areas, the municipality is often the biggest and most important employer. Speaking out in this context, where employment and promotion opportunities are limited, can present real risks to complainants.”

#NotOurLeaders calls for the following action

Our call today is very simple and directed at the media, as well as South Africa’s various public groupings:

  • Report on and follow-up cases involving our political representatives and institutions. It is in the public interest to know what our power-holders do with their positions and authority.
  • Treat all reports of sexual misconduct, abuse and violence with equal seriousness. A focus only on the high-profile, national figures should not overshadow the victimisation of women and girls by less-prominent individuals, in small, rural areas.

For comment contact:

  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788

For more cases from #NotOurLeaders click here

RELATED MEDIA STORIES

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/sowetan/20150220/281517929562455

http://allafrica.com/stories/201603170776.html

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/ANC-councillor-held-over-rape-20130319

https://issuu.com/hermino/docs/sosh_times_early_march

http://www.thenewage.co.za/anger-at-sex-pest-claims/

http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2015/02/06/da-councillor-held-for-rape/

http://ewn.co.za/2013/11/27/ANC-councillor-accused-of-raping-his-daughter

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

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GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

#NotOurLeaders Day 8 – George Mthimunye

#NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

For release: late Monday 4 December 2017

Another Teflon Man – Government ignores it’s own #CountMeIn campaign

CASE 8: George Mthimunye, municipal manager in three municipalities, now senior manager at Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature

Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela was sexually harassed for three years by George Mthimunye, the then-municipal manager of the Dr JS Moroka Municipality in Mpumalanga. In 2001 Mthimunye was finally suspended and charged with sexual harassment and unauthorised or fruitless expenditure. He later settled with the municipality and resigned in 2001, reportedly having received a R5 million settlement. Mthimunye was then appointed the municipal manager of the Naledi municipality in Vryburg – and suspended in 2010 in the course of disciplinary proceedings against him, related to tender irregularities. Two years later, reportedly on the recommendation of the ANC’s deployment committee, and despite a High Court judgement against him, Mthimunye was appointed the manager of the Emalahleni Municipality. In a now-familiar pattern, Mthimunye was suspended in 2013 and the municipality placed under administration. Mthimunye resigned from Emalahleni in February 2014 and took up his new post as the Executive Manager of Corporate Services in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature in April 2014 – a position he continues to occupy.

Mthimunye seems to have avoided ever facing disciplinary enquiry for his actions and has consistently evaded finalisation of such processes. In a pattern already noted in previous #NotOurLeaders, he appears to have received at least one substantial settlement upon his resignation. In 2007 Mthimunye also successfully sued RCP Media and African Eye News Services for defamation after they described him both as ‘lecherous’ and as a sexual harasser. He was awarded R35 000, in addition when his harassment of Mathibela-Mahlangu went to court, the municipality reportedly paid his legal costs.

By contrast, Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela had to wait until 2012 before she saw justice. The North Gauteng High Court found that Mthimunye had committed the sexual harassment and awarded costs and damages to Mahlangu-Mathibela to be paid by the Moroka Municipality and Mthimunye. Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela reportedly faced ongoing victimisation by the Moroko Municipality during 2012 and 2013, including having her salary frozen. The municipality has also never sought to recover any costs from Mthimunye, in spite of legal advice that he could be liable for at least a portion of these.

In 2016 Mthimunye was again accused of at least three incidents of sexual harassment by a woman working in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature. When the Legislature failed to take up her complaint she took the matter to the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE). Subsequently the case disappeared, the CGE having concluded that the matter was ‘amicably resolved.’

ANC and municipal spokespeople have used the usual avoidance tactics when asked to comment on Mthimunye. In 2012, in the face of the High Court ruling, the ANC secretary for the Nkangala region, Tommy Nkoana, argued that the ANC could not take a position as it would be ‘“judgmental” and “passing a verdict” if it stopped Mthimunye’s deployment to Emalahleni. Emalahleni spokesperson Lebohang Mofokeng similarly argued that they could not comment on the allegations against Mthimunye because they were ‘his word against the media’.

“This case has all the hallmarks of patronage and protectionism from the ANC in Mpumalanga, it is inconceivable that a person with a track record like this could continue to advance in his career without strong political support. It is corrupt” says Sam Waterhouse of the Women and Democracy Initative.

Lisa Vetten, a gender violence specialist points out: “One of government’s messages for the 16 Days of Activism is #CountMeIn which urges people to take various sorts of actions against gender-based violence. They could do no better than to act on their own message by taking action against Mthimunye in terms of the Public Service Commission Act. He is blatantly unfit to work in the public service. Retaining, promoting and protecting him makes a mockery of every government campaign telling women to speak out.”

Action must be taken

  • Mthimunye’s deployment to various municipalities is linked to recommendations of the ANC deployment committee and is overseen by the ministers and MECs of cooperative governance. Relevant ANC structures must account for their continued support of Mthimunye and his deployment in senior positions regardless of the multiple charges that he’s faced.
  • Repeated appointment of Mthimunye also points to a gap in appointments processes and lack of accountability of the municipal councils and the Provincial Legislature. An accessible public record of people who’ve been disciplined and dismissed, or resigned prior to completion of a disciplinary process can increase political accountability. This should apply to senior appointments at all levels and arms of government.

For comment contact:

  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
  • Sam Waterhouse, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 084 522 9646
  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  •  
Relevant Policy

Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA)

 

 

RELATED MEDIA STORIES

https://www.news24.com/Archives/City-Press/Municipality-scrambles-to-pay-sexual-harassment-costs-20150430

https://www.news24.com/Archives/City-Press/Municipal-clerk-still-on-ice-after-winning-sexual-harassment-case-against-boss-20150429

https://witbanknews.co.za/10850/past-municipal-manager-now-legislature/

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sex-case-just-disappears-20170204

 

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

 

GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

Violent Politicians are #NotOurLeaders

LHRDOI

 

24 November 2017 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

#NotOurLeaders Campaign launched by Women and Democracy Initiative, Lawyers for Human Rights and gender violence specialist during 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

Tomorrow, 25 November, marks the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women. Activities led by government emphasise the importance of taking action to end gender-based violence but do political parties walk the talk?

Mduduzi Manana has resigned from his position as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training and been convicted and sentenced for committing assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. But he is neither the first nor the only political representative to behave violently towards women. During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights, and gender violence specialist Lisa Vetten turn the spotlight on political representatives and the protectors and keepers who enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. Each day the group will release the name and facts of a different case of a leader embroiled in sexual abuse charges. The aim is to reflect both on the incidents themselves, as well as the responses of the political parties to which these men belong, their actions proving a litmus test of their true commitment to addressing sexual violence.

South Africa’s political representatives are the guardians of the Constitution and rights it contains, including the right to gender equality and the right to be free from all forms of violence, whether from public or private sources. It is their responsibility to develop laws that advance these rights, hold government departments to account for their (in)action in this regard, and approve budgets that make these rights realities. But political representatives’ ability to improve women and men’s lives is compromised when they appoint abusive men to positions of power.

“Political parties that appoint these men, then fail to act against them, or protect them, are hypocritical. Over the next 16 days, we will hear a lot of public condemnation of violence against women and children from various leaders, but this campaign turns the focus on what politicians and parties actually do, not what they say,” said Sanja Bornman of the Lawyers for Human Rights’ Gender Equality programme. Parties undermine efforts to address gendered forms of violence when they fail to develop systems and procedures addressing sexual violence, or fail to put their policies and procedures into effect. They also hamper South Africa’s efforts to meet Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Target 5.5 of this goal is to “ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.” Yet women’s political participation and representation is undermined in environments where sexual violence and abuse go unchecked.

Says Lisa Vetten: “These problems are not new and if they are allowed to persist there is a risk they will become permanent features of our political landscape. As the country currently debates the quality of its political representatives this dimension of their conduct should not be overlooked.”

The individuals we will be focusing on are #NotOurLeaders and we demand that political structures act decisively and urgently to tackle the problems we will be highlighting during the 16 Days.

For queries:

  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788
  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
GENDER POLITICS, HEALTH, POLITICS

Parliament to meet on gender issues – 2 November

The Multi-Party Women’s Caucus will convene in Parliament next week to discuss some extremely important issues. These include:

  • Gender quotas for political representation (IEC)
  • Gender-responsive budgeting (Treasury)
  • Spending on gender-based violence
  • Vat exemption on sanitary pads

The meeting will take place on Thursday 2 November, between 10am and 1pm, and is scheduled to take place in the Old Assembly Chamber.

CURRENT AFFAIRS, GENDER POLITICS

Female State of the Nation: Part 4: Crime and Human Rights

Jen Thorpe, feminism, South Africa, feminist
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

Read Part 1 ‘Where are We’, Part 2 ‘Women and the Economy‘, Part 3: ‘Energy and the Environment

As South Africans it seems that it is impossible to go a day without seeing a news headline of a violent attack in some form. Between 2006 and 2013, more than one million crimes were committed against women. Common assault was the most common contact crime, followed by assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm. The Table below provides a breakdown of the SAPS statistics.

But before you get there, statistics of this scale are often hard to process. It’s difficult to imagine what more they represent. So when you see these numbers, I want you to think of the images you know of the 1956 women’s march that changed our history. In that march, there were roughly 20 000 women.

Crimes against women 2006 – 2013[1]

Year Murder Sexual Offences Serious assault (assault GBH) Common assault Total
2006/7 2 602 34 816 69 132 100 390 206 940
2007/8 2 544 31 328 64 084 94 286 192 242
2008/9 2 436 30 124 61 509 91 390 185 459
2009/10 2 457 36 093 62 143 94 176 194 869
2010/11 2 594 35 820 60 630 89 956 189 000
2011/12 2 286 31 299 57 345 87 191 178 121
2012/13 2 266 29 928 55 320 83 394 170 908
Total for crime category 2006 – 2013 17 185 229 408 430 163 640 783 1 317 539

It’s unfortunate that the crime statistics are not reported in a gender-disaggregated way each year that would allow us to track what types of crimes women are reporting. In 2012/13 however, the SAPS did report in this way, as detailed in the table above. In that year, adult females were more likely than adult males and children to be the victim of sexual offences and common assault. In terms of the total number of crimes, sexual offences against adult females represented 45 percent of all sexual offences, and common assault against adult females represented 48 percent of all common assaults.

So it’s clear that women are more likely to report certain types of crimes – namely sexual offences and common assaults. It’s possible to conclude that these common assaults represent some of the domestic violence statistics which, although tracked daily by the SAPS, have never been reported on.

It is important therefore for those listening to SONA to consider what commitments have been made to women in terms of protecting them from crime both outside and within the home. In the 2014 SONA the only commitment made was that the Government would ‘work to reduce levels of crime’. Following the deaths of Anene Booysen, Anni Dewani, and Reeva Steenkamp, a great deal of noise was made by many Government representatives from all parties about the need to address crimes against women. But now that noise has become an almost inaudible murmur.

Two years ago the Government via the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities launched the National Council on Gender Based Violence (NCGBV). This council was formed to address and monitor high levels of violence against women, as well as to consider strategies to prevent further violence. During 2014, after finalising its identity, the Council seemed to disappear. Another commitment made was the development of new sexual offences courts and the refurbishment of existing courts to become sexual offences courts. This is another development which seems to have disappeared from the agenda. There is also an inter-ministerial committee on violence against women. Yet, the relevant departments are not working together to improve the lives of survivors in a way that is evident, efficient or speedy enough. If these commitments are not discussed tonight, why not? If there is not sufficient budget for these important services, where is that money being redirected to?

Of course, as I explained in Part 1 a useful term to understand is intersectionality. That is, the intersection of various forms of oppression on different people. With crime and violence, it is true that certain categories of women are more vulnerable.

Sex workers currently face a number of human rights violations because of the criminalisation of the sale of sex in South Africa. These have been well documented by organisations like the Women’s Legal Centre and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce. Excellent arguments exist for decriminalising sex work, and ensuring that sex workers are able to perform their work without fear of violence from police, and from perpetrators.

Violence against Lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women is also prevalent, and there has unfortunately been a move away from South Africa’s active championship of LGBTI rights on the continent. The National Task Team on Hate Crimes was formed in 2011, and since then the Department of Justice has made several commitments to introduce new legislation to support LGBTI victims of violence. However, four years later this has not happened. This failure to amend existing legislation to enhance sentences for hate crimes, or to introduce new legislation that will effectively allow for the tracking of these incidents and the prevention thereof, is an indication of a lack of political will to really support the right to be free from discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation. South Africa’s failure to criticise other African states for ‘anti-gay’ laws indicates that we have moved back from the leadership role on these issues. In 2014, a transgender woman undertook a hunger strike after Home Affairs repeatedly failed to assist her in changing the sex status on her ID document.

This is not the time to be inactive or complacent about violence against women. There is a need to identify this as a core issue in tonight’s SONA, and if not, to question how the problem will be addressed in the 2015/16 period.

 


 

[1] South African Institute of Race Relations (2013) Page 770.