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Minister lashed over ‘slut’ tweet storm

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba may want to tweet more carefully following a firestorm of condemnation after he said he “might get lucky” at Saturday’s “SlutWalk”.

Responding to fellow ANC national executive member and Science and Technology Deputy Minister Derek Hanekom’s suggestion that they could tweet about “rugby, Bells and slut walks”, Gigaba insisted they stick to the latter.

About 2 000 men and women marched down Somerset Road in Green Point as part of the Cape Town leg of the international "Slutwalk". Photo: Matthew Jordaan. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

“@Derek_Hanekom No, let’s talk about the slut walk. Now, I wanna attend as an observer. Might get lucky,” Gigaba tweeted.

The comment was “retweeted” several times and soon some members of the social network took issue with Gigaba, describing his tweet as “unforgivable” and “stupid”.

Gigaba apologised two hours later after having “found out” what the walk was about. On Saturday women and men donned skimpy outfits to march through Cape Town as part of the international SlutWalk phenomenon, a campaign to fight the idea that what a woman is wearing is to blame for her being sexually assaulted.

On Sunday, Gigaba’s spokesman, Makhosini Nkhosi, said the comment came about “as a result of a misunderstanding”, adding that it was “in jest”.

“Once he had been apprised of the campaign the tweet was removed. He has subsequently not only supported the campaign but also called on all men to do the same,” said Nkhosi.

Gigaba was known for his strong views against, and moves to outlaw, internet and cellphone pornography.

Organisers estimate that over 2 000 protesters attended, marching from the Prestwich Memorial, along Somerset Road to the Cape Town Stadium. They carried banners declaring “Rapists rape people, not outfits” and “Weak men rape”. Men also joined the protest, some even wearing miniskirts to show their support.

Asked whether Gigaba would attend the next “SlutWalk”, which organisers are thinking of making an annual event, Nkhosi said: “He may not be able to attend as he is scheduled to be abroad on government business at the time.”

But gender activist Melanie Judge said Gigaba’s comments were filled with sexual innuendo – and were one of the main reasons women had to reclaim the streets. “Women should feel free to express themselves, claim public space and dress how they want.”

Author and Cape Times columnist Margie Orford, a patron of Rape Crisis, said the “slut” was in the eye of the beholder and that Gigaba’s comments were depressing.

“Jokes like that are not funny. Many women are undefended in the public and private space. The minister can apologise but he should put his slut where his mouth is and attend the next march,” said Orford. One of the organisers, Umeshree Govender, said Gigaba was “obviously not aware” of the campaign.

- Cape Times

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