– September 2019
A question was recently asked “Do you think we had a successful women’s month?” – with the events unfolding as it ends it is difficult to answer to the affirmative. As we’ve come to the end of Women’s month and the beginning of Heritage month it is with concern and heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of one of our sisters, Ms. Uyinene Mrwetyana.
BLA-SC recently held its National Gender Summit in collaboration with South African Black Women in Law (SABWiL), in the Human Rights Conference room on Constitutional Hill, on 31 August 2019. The theme had been #HushedHarassment – we spoke to the violence against our bodily integrity that are silenced by the power dynamics of our perpetrators and the silences imposed upon us by social constructs. The guest speakers were the founder of SABWiL, Adv. Tiry; the Vice President of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), Ms. Lenyai; and the Deputy President of Black Lawyers Association (BLA), Ms Baitseng Rangata spoke of personal experiences and the cruciality of speaking out. The need for us as student leaders, students and society at large continuously recurred as we reminded ourselves of the impact we need to effect in rebuking the violence, calling out this violence and protecting one another from this very violence.
To come from a summit of this nature only to hear that Ms. Uyinene Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town (UCT) student, was violated and brutally ripped from this world just for being for being young, aspirant, lively, and a woman collecting a package from the Post Office in broad daylight – it is painstaking; striking fear and great worry for the society we live in.
BLA-SC is deeply appalled by the manner in which this young woman was abducted, raped and murdered in an establishment one would assume to be safe – the Post Office. When will such atrocities end? When will our sister be safe? When will our sisters stop asking #AmINext? When will women no longer need to send location, share route and make simple activities like going to collect a package a group activity? When will women stop fearing men – in and out of Women’s month?
It is time we held each other accountable – it is time that we call perpetrators to book through the various channels, that we report fellow students who violate us in our institutions of higher learning, that we report our educators, officials in our communities. It is too important that we continue to protect one another – that we share our location with those close to us, that we move in pairs and groups, that we have emergency contacts such as Namola on call. It is unfortunate that society has descended to this and it is aggrieving that there seems to be few avenues for a solution that will exhume us from this place – however we will keep fighting.
We call for better implementation of laws against Gender Based Violence. we call for higher security measures in institutions of Higher Learning and those which provide services, we call for improved response to matters of Gender Based Violence, we call for awareness campaigns against Gender Based violence, we call for the fall of victim blaming, and we so too call for better reprimanding of perpetrators causing such harm.
With time it is easier for rapists and murderers to walk freely in the streets, to attend classes, to go to work and to roam the malls than it is for women. The war against GBV has escalated and it is increasingly our responsibility to end it.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a difficult fight all the way to the last breath. Rest in Power Mbokodo, may justice prevail, may the war against GBV be won.
Aluta continua, victoria e certa,
Mr. Koketso Choeu
Spokesperson of the Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter
083 622 9406