Cape Town - Emerging just at the tail end of the 16 Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children is the recent reports of alleged sexual harassment perpetrated by the national spokesperson of the ANC, Pule Mabe. This is a cause for concern.
We have just come from a successful National Summit against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, where the government in collaboration with civil society committed to turning the tide against gender-based violence (GBV).
For someone of Mr Mabe’s stature and standing in the ruling party, this allegation casts a dark shadow on the ruling party’s obligation to live up to the commitments made at the summit.
We note that Mr Mabe has denied the allegations. This is not new. We recall that Mr Mabe’s former colleague in the Western Cape, former chairperson, Marius Fransman, was also accused of a similar act of sexual violence against a junior staff member. He too strenuously denied the allegations. He was later found guilty by a group of his peers within the ruling party and sanctioned heavily.
We note that the National Prosecution Authority of the Northern Cape took a decision to follow through with criminal charges against Mr Fransman. Many of us, within civil society, were gravely concerned that the criminal justice system was once more failing womxn at the altar of political expediency. We trust that the system will not fail this time, ensuring that justice will prevail because justice delayed is justice denied.
It is concerning that this matter was reported within the ANC structures, and yet no immediate action was taken.
We urge that the ANC deal with this matter expeditiously and follow due process. For far too long we have seen men within the ruling party escaping accountability for such acts of sexual violence.
Sonke Gender Justice, due to the high level of sexual harassment cases and in the light of the #MeToo movement, chose to put the spotlight on sexual harassment for our 16 Days of Activism programme for 2018.
We stand firmly in solidarity with the womxn who bravely stepped forward to tell her story and hope that she will consider laying formal criminal charges allowing for the criminal justice system to take its course.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.