Pretoria - The hypocrisy of women in leadership knows no bounds, according to Pretoria university Masters student Naledi Chirwa, who was among the four young women who staged a protest against President Jacob Zuma at the IEC results centre on Saturday.
“When they called for our heads, they confirmed this was true,” Chirwa said on Sunday.
The 23-year-old held up a piece of paper on which was written “Khanga” while the president was speaking live on television after the declaration of the local government elections.
She and three others, who held up placards reading “I am one in 3” and “Remember Khwezi” and “10 years later”, were hustled out of the room by what is believed to be the president’s security detail.
Chirwa, who was accredited to the IEC centre in her capacity as a member of the EFF Student Command, said the decision to protest had been spontaneous.
This came when they heard Zuma would be in attendance at the announcement of the results, but it was not linked to the party.
She said she and the other three women who participated did not know each other, beyond that they were all feminists and had been part of the #1in9 campaign which marked 10 years since Zuma’s rape trial.
He was found not guilty, but the victim - known only as Khwezi, a name given to her to protect her identity - fled the country.
She was said to have wrapped a khanga around her at the time of the assault.
“When Khwezi was raped, I was 13 and had no idea what was happening. But as I grew up and became the 1 in 3, I realised truth had to be spoken.”
She was referring to the alleged rape of the woman by Zuma, and the campaign which gives women a chance to talk about rape and other issues.
The three, who had all been working at the centre, agreed to stage the silent protest in support of “Khwezi and all women who were raped and never saw justice”.
They debated the best place to do it. “We initially thought outside would be better, but when the idea of getting up on the stage was made, we jumped at it.”
Referring to the reaction of ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, among others, Chirwa said it was a shame women leaders had spoken out against their action.
“They say we humiliated the president and breached security; the only person humiliated is Khwezi,” she said.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo has demanded a full report on the “security breach”.
“They have that democratic right (to protest), that we respect. But equally, we must also respect that there are security parameters,” Mahlobo told a media briefing by the inter-ministerial committee on elections on Sunday.
“We should be getting a full report to say what’s happening at that particular results operations centre in terms of our security forces that were there, including the security arrangements by the IEC; the minister of state security and the police.”
Mahlobo noted that IEC deputy chairman Terry Tselane had apologised to Zuma.
Chirwa was surprised that they were left to stand in front of the podium for so long during Zuma’s speech but said they were then manhandled.
“Both men and women grabbed us, shoved us and used the most foul language to us,” she said. Referring to Women’s Day she said: “Tomorrow they will be singing wathint’ abafazi wathint’ imbokodo (you strike the women, you strike the rock), yet they touched and violated us in front of everyone.”