EAST LONDON - Total Shutdown activists in East London were left furious when one of the bodyguards of Buffalo City Mayor Xola Pakati allegedly aggressively pushed event organiser Aphiwe Ntlemeza.
The incident occurred in front of protesters while a memorandum of demands was presented to Pakati outside the East London City Hall on Wednesday.
Moments after Rianna Oelofsene finished reading the memorandum, Ntlemeza told the gathering about how she got pushed by the mayor's bodyguard.
"As we are busy here to raise issues about the abuse of women this man [pointing to the mayor's bodyguard] just pushed me," said Ntlemeza.
Other protesters responded by demanding answers and shouted, "Why!" and demanded an apology from both Pakati and the bodyguard.
"Respect us! We demand apology!" the Total Shutdown protesters shouted.
But Pakati did not utter a word, instead he dashed inside East London City Hall flanked by his bodyguards.
Ntlemeza expressed disappointment at the conduct of both the mayor and the bodyguard.
She said: "It means there is no attention to what we doing here, we are just wasting our time because even this memorandum will be trashed into rubbish bin."
Ntlemeza criticised Pakati for not protecting her from the actions of his bodyguard.
"These are the same people we are looking up to in addressing gender violence but though he noticed what happened, he did not even speak out. We also noticed how disinterested he was as the memorandum was read out which makes us more concerned whether this memorandum will be taken serious."
More than two hundred women from different gender organisations and NGOs attended the Buffalo City Shutdown march.
Among those that were present was Professor Pumla Gqola, author of the book 'Rape, A South African nightmare'.
Gqola said she was sick and tired of the fear gender violence invoked in women.
"I'm sick and tired of of reading through the newspapers that another woman has been abducted from our campuses, our streets and has been burnt," said Gqola.
Another activist, Thokozani Mtini criticised the conduct of police when women reported issues of domestic violence.
"Police would say go and talk to your husband! We can't arrest your husband because it's going to affect your children. When I went there [to the police] it was because I told myself that this is enough," said Mtini.
She said it was time that women took the bull by the horns.
"Speak out and don't sit in silence, seek professional help if you can't get help from your peers," she said.
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African News Agency (ANA)