South Africans have again expressed outrage on social media. This is how we protest now - with hashtags.
At the centre this time is the news that a convicted woman beater was booked to speak at an event meant to raise advocacy against the scourge of gender-based violence.
The outrage was prompted by a poster, doing the rounds on Twitter, proudly announcing that former deputy minister of Education Mduduzi Manana would speak at the Shevolution Africa event, alongside Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Sure, organisers of the event have since removed Manana from the panel, but why does it have to take public outcry for someone to notice that the forceful inclusion of unrepentant perpetrators of gender-based violence into society is insulting.
There is a disconnect somewhere. People don’t appreciate the seriousness of it. Now perpetrators must be rewarded with attention and afforded radio and TV coverage to lecture us. Not so fast.
Initiatives like Shevolution Africa must be commended.
Tickets prices to the event range from R1000 to R5000 and proceeds will be channelled to “Lion Mama and other development programmes”. Those who follow the news will know Lion Mama refers to an Eastern Cape mother who admitted to stabbing her daughter’s alleged rapists and killing one of them.
However, it is unbelievable that people sat in a meeting and unanimously agreed Manana was the best choice and a suitable candidate to speak as an authority on issues related to gender-based violence.
Had it not been for forward thinking citizens, Manana would have been afforded a platform to address people, as an expert on the scourge. Shameful!
Without claiming to be a champion of morality, Manana did very little to convince anyone that he is genuinely remorseful for his deplorable actions. Well, except for throwing money at the problem and pledging to donate a portion of his pension to organisations aligned to gender-based violence causes.
A remorseful person would have manned up and faced a disciplinary process and, subsequently, the consequences.
Issuing statements, like video recordings, addressing us as “fellow South Africans” only confirms one thing, the man has overestimated his own importance, he wants to be given special attention. But why should we not treat him like any other abuser?
Furthermore, his stunt of resigning from Parliament, a day before the ethics committee was scheduled to hear his matter, showed signs of a man whose main preoccupation was that of preserving his image.
Last week we carried an article of another “outrage” over the invitation of convicted rapist, musician Sipho “Brickz” Ndlovu to perform at the Mzansi Kwaito and House Music Awards.
The chief executive of the Awards, Perfecta Khumalo, unashamedly told television viewers that Brickz would perform at a nomination event, despite widespread criticism. And indeed, Brickz did perform that night.
In her rather poorly constructed reasoning, she claimed the musician owed the organisation for a 2016 gig and therefore had to pay. Khumalo clearly placed profits over ethics.
If this is how low the bar has been set, what hope is there of constructing a new society of men and women of substance?
I am not suggesting that society should create a rubbish bin to dump discard perpetrators of gender-based violence or ostracise them.
I am simply saying perpetrators should undergo a process to atone for their actions. They cannot insult our intelligence by suddenly claiming to have changed overnight, or fashioning themselves as sympathisers to causes geared to suppressing gender-based violence.
Perpetrators must accept responsibility, be ready to deal with consequences and undergo corrective measures. There is no quick fix, they can’t just impose themselves back into society.
This would mean if you’re Manana, accept to be disciplined and face punishment instead of staging PR stunts in an effort to salvage a tainted reputation.
If your name is Arthur Mafokate, don’t force your way into #100MenMarch while you still face a serious allegation of domestic abuse. It is unfair for perpetrators to expect warm reception from society, when they have not endeavoured to repent.