Mantoa Malema calls for urgent action on violence against women

Mantoa Malema calls for urgent action on violence against women

Cape Town - Mantoa Malema, the wife of Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, on Friday called for an urgent plan to stem gender-based violence and ensure that women are safe in public and private.

Malema made the call in an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa in which she accepted his apology for the allegations of domestic violence directed at her husband this week in Parliament by African National Congress (ANC) member of Parliament (MP) Boy Mamabolo but deplored her family being dragged into an extraordinary political slinging match in this manner.

"I write to acknowledge and confirm acceptance of your apology, on behalf of myself, my husband and my children. I also want to assure you that I am willing to put this matter aside and dismiss it as a thing of the past," she wrote.

"Having said this, Mr. President, it is important to place on record that in a country where women continue to wear black outfits, either mourning the death of their girl children or in solidarity with women who are victims of gender-based violence, Parliament should never be used to humiliate women, particularly using false and malicious accusations."

She termed the exchange "toxic" and an insult to all women, especially victims of violence perpetrated by men. 

Malema said as a woman and the mother of three young boys she had no option but to be personally engaged in the fight against the abuse of women.

"I’m nurturing thee boys of my own, and they will grow up to become gentlemen. I cannot make them gentle and responsible men by concealing violence in my own home and private space, doing so will be teaching them that violence can be tolerated," Malema said.

"In order to be men that respect women and regard women as their equals, I have a duty to resist violence against my physical, mental and emotional being, both in the public and private sphere. It is on these grounds that I resisted abuse, even when it came from such a powerful space and party as the one you lead."

She said under Ramaphosa's watch, members of Parliament, should focus on how to fight gender-based violence and ensure true freedom for women in South Africa.

"Freedom from the very weaponisation that occurred under your watch," she added, and went on to describe the official response to gender-based violence as often "tired and futile".

"I do hope that the conversation sparked by this unfortunate event will help gender-based violence to finally be met with greater and more meaningful urgency. We need a working plan, one that results in women being truly safe in both public and domestic spaces. One that does not require women to be in a constant fight to just to be alive."

Ramamphosa on Thursday told Malema in Parliament: "My heart goes out to Mantoa and your family, Honourable Malema" and rebuked Mamabolo for his conduct.

Malema in return issued a statement, apologising to the president and his family, saying he deeply regretted having responded to the provocation from the ANC by suggesting Ramaphosa had abused his late ex- wife.

The accusations and counter accusation were made in the debate on Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address.

African News Agency/ANA