'Rape could happen to your sister'

By Time of article published Apr 4, 2006

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By Shelly Banjo and Mike Cherney

Four soccer players from Orange Farm traded their jerseys for purple T-shirts emblazoned with "Against her will, Against the law" outside the Johannesburg High Court.

On Monday, they joined dozens of women holding signs outside Jacob Zuma's trial in support of a woman's right to report rape.

"As men, we have to support the women," said 18-year-old Mlungisi Ntshangase.

He and his three team-mates, Abel Mokoena and Daniel Mbele (both 23) and 18-year-old Isomole Kebone, skipped school to protest outside the courthouse.

They said they wanted to show that the fight against gender-based violence was not only a woman's issue.

Lefa Tlhame, 26, a manager at the Gauteng office of the Treatment Action Campaign, joined protesters for the second day and echoed the views of the soccer players.

"The struggle during the apartheid era was not just for men's freedom. All people have the right to report abuse, regardless of their gender," he said.

The soccer players said they would recruit more people from their community to protest on Tuesday.

They felt that rape should be an important issue for every man. "Rape could happen to your sister. To protest is not about whether you like Zuma or not," Mbele said.

Just metres away, Zuma supporters danced and chanted slogans.

Many wore T-shirts with messages supporting him, while some burnt women's underwear.

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