Cape Town – Members of the Bo-Kaap community staged a demonstration in support of survivors and victims of gender-based violence and sexual assault.
Their action came after a video of a young woman went viral when she spoke about her alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her grandfather, a well-known Bo-Kaap educator and former high school principal.
She claims many other women were also victims of sexual assault by her grandfather and his brother over a period spanning more than 50 years.
About 200 women, men and children gathered on the corner of Wale and Bree streets on Thursday and called on other victims of the alleged perpetrator to come forward.
The woman in the video, who wanted to remain anonymous and now lives in Jordan, alleges her 85-year-old paternal grandfather sexually abused her from the age of five until she was 11.
As a child, she lived on the same property as her grandfather in Bo-Kaap. The abuse ended when she moved abroad with her parents.
Bo-Kaap resident Saadia Williams, 81, said abused women had to have courage to speak out when afflicted by sexual abuse, while Women’s Legal Centre director Sehaam Samaai said women had never been silent when it came to GBV, but people had not been listening.
“We also know that the backlash is real. Secondary victimisation is real and we need to ensure that these victims and survivors can come out in a safe environment,” Samaai said.
Author Yusuf Daniels said that by sweeping sexual abuse and assault under the rug, “we are as guilty as that person who did the deed.”
Protesters marched through the streets of Bo-Kaap and to the home of the accused.
Prayers were said in front of his home for the protection of the community, and particularly children.
"The purpose of the march was to create awareness in the community that we must have zero tolerance for anyone who sexually abuses our children," said resident Masturah Adams.
Osman Shabodien, Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association chairperson, said: “I think the challenge is not what the perpetrators do, but what we do to prevent the perpetrators (from being exposed) among us.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said one of the accused who was a member of its Education Board had been suspended with immediate effect until further notice.
“We condemn all acts of sexual molestation and abuse of women and children.
“Crimes of this nature are abominable and the process of the law must be fully instituted. Our sympathy goes out to all who are suffering from any form of violation,” the MJC statement said.