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Cape Town designer uses the power of creativity to speak out against GBV

Some of the cushions designed by Masimzukise Jack. Picture: Instagram/@tasejack_

Some of the cushions designed by Masimzukise Jack. Picture: Instagram/@tasejack_

Published Sep 8, 2020

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Gender-based violence remains a pertinent issue, not only in South Africa but globally. According to the country’s GBV stats, three women are killed every day at the hands of their partners.

The latest case is that of an Eastern Cape woman who was shot dead by her husband inside a police station while trying to open a case of domestic violence. Although women and children are more vulnerable, they are not the only ones who experience GBV.

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Men get attacked, too. Cape Town designer Masimzukise Jack was attacked in December last year when he visited his nephew at initiation school.

Speaking on the abuse he endured, Jack said: “During that entire time, I blamed and questioned myself. Apparently, as a gay man, I have no right to speak on the ’manly things’ that happen at the mountain, even when they are wrong. I was supposed to keep quiet, let my nephew continue being mistreated, and know my place.

“It’s really sad that because I am gay, I apparently cannot speak out when I see our culture being disrespected by those so-called ’men’ who abuse our little brothers. Those who introduce them to drugs and violence instead of grooming them to be value-adding citizens in society.”

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On the 27 of November 2019, I was so excited because my nephew was going to initiation school. I unfortunately couldn’t make it to send-away ceremony because I was not home. As soon as I arrived home, on the 1st of December, the first thing I did, was to go see him. Upon my arrival, he was alone and I could immediately tell that he was not okay and so I waited for his Caretaker (Inkhankatha). We waited for more than 2hours and yet he did not arrive, which to me was evidence of negligence and recklessness because a relatively new initiate needs to be attended to regularly. So, I took it about myself to help my nephew because he was clearly in pain, I guided and told him what he had to do. When his Caretaker finally arrived, I confronted him about his recklessness! Something he clearly didn’t like, especially coming from a gay man. He got aggressive and told me that I know nothing on the issue (which was quite funny, because, I too, am a man and had gone to initiation school). In any case, he told me that I may as well look after my nephew myself, since “I know so much”, he then went to his other initiates. I told my uncle about this and he went to confront him too, while I stayed behind with my nephew in his hut. This must have angered him even more, because a few moments later he came back with a mob of his friends, one of them with an exe, they didn’t even ask questions, they dragged me out of the hut and as I attempted to run, I felt the exe hit my head. I helplessly laid there, still very much conscious, watching as more than 10 grown men had their way with me, name-calling, kicking and beating me with rods. The Caretaker even called some of his other initiates to join in. My 65-year-old uncle was shoved out of the way and couldn’t do anything. I saw my nephew crying as he witnessed the horrible site of his bleeding uncle, being beaten. They got tired and eventually stopped. They even took my phone and the money I had with. Through all of that, I was asking for forgiveness from them for something I don’t even know and praying to God. I was so relieved when I saw a police van and a car coming..... to be continued❤️

A post shared by Tase Jack (@tasejack_) on

To deal with the trauma, he started telling his story and speaking out against gender-based violence.

Jack used his creativity to share his message, designing cushions, totes, T-shirts and other products to call out any form of abuse.

Most of the garments carry a powerful message such as “ndixoleleni” which means “forgive me”.

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He has received support from local celebrities like radio personality Unathi Msengana and actress Lusanda Mbane.

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