by Maureen Majola and Olive Legobye
Meadowlands, Soweto. Johannesburg
Braving hard rain, Olive Legobye and Inkanyiso productions made their way to the meadowlands police station on Friday the 9th of August 2013.
They found a group of +- 30 men and women, who are members of the Community Police Forum (CPF) sector 1-2-3 and some members of the LGBTI community. Everyone was gathered for a prayer and candlelight service for the late Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa who were both brutally murdered in July 2007 in the same township.
The first speaker, Mme Alice Hopkins, President of CPF sector said, “today we walk freely because of the women of 1956. This is our month, it is given to us and we must celebrate it. We need to respect men regardless of their financial state.”
Mme Alice didn’t mention anything about Sizakele and Salome. All she said was why we should celebrate and how we should respect men. I stayed on my seat with my ears raised high waiting to hear what others had to say.
A representative from Greater Soweto and chairperson of the CPF Mr German Mogotlhlwane said, “Women of South Africa need to know that it’s not only black women who were oppressed or affected by Apartheid laws but all women across all races were affected. When a men spoke a women would have to jump and attend to it. We all used to carry dompas, I carried one too.”
He continued to say women have been abused for too long and it is wrong.
“God gave us strength but we are using it incorrectly. Today is a special day for all women in South Africa and we need to celebrate it with respect and dignity” concluded Mogotlhlwane.
At this point I was a bit confused because no one was saying anything about Sizakele or Salome and it seemed as if this event was just about women’s day and not them.
In his address to the crowd, Captain Lifhuku said, “I am a community servant, I do not go with feelings, I do what the Constitution says. I don’t serve a certain group of people but the entire Meadowlands community.
It is sad that every time we receive a complaint we find women crying. We find that they are abused by their partners, sons, brothers or someone close to them. Women are strong, they get beaten up, put through pain but they hold on.
We as the Meadowlands Police Station are here to serve them and help them out but the women will always say ‘I forgive him’. We never had a problem with men killing their families but when we got democracy we inherited this thing.”
He went on to say, “If a partner has a temper and they can’t control it, know that you have an abuser.”
We then proceeded to the candlelight which was led by uMfundisi who said, “This is a special day and it needs to be celebrated everyday not just this once”.
uMfundisi (pastor) Tshabalala led us in prayer and said we should pray that God protects all women and we should all remember the women who were killed, be it lesbian, straight or any other sexuality.
“Let’s commemorate all the people who have been killed by men and I as a men would not be here if it wasn’t for a women” said Mfundisi.
We all said a prayer and that was the end of the event. No one said anything about hate crimes or the impact it has on families. We didn’t march to where Sizakele and Salome where found and all the placards just sat there on the table.
This event failed to impress. In April this year, we attended Noxolo Nogwaza’s commemoration. It also didn’t meet expectations with less support and attention paid to the lesbian women.
In an article written for Inkanyiso, Tshidi Legobye, a friend who was with Sizakele and Salome hours before they were murdered, reveals how she was affected.
“Since that day, I’m scared of darkness, I’m not free at night and I can’t walk alone at night.
I don’t visit friends till late or unnecessary sleepovers to friends.
I realized that even when you’re in a car you’re not safe. Friends are pushing me to attend LGBTI functions and I’m not comfortable with it because these hate crimes mostly happen in the evenings.
That’s how I feel after 6 years,” states the article.
Previous articles by Tshidi and Maureen