Police Minister Bheki Cele has asked how society can sustain the levels of civic activism currently being seen in response to recent high profile murders of women in parts of the country over the past few weeks.
“How do you really continue to make it a daily issue this thing of femicide and killing women,” he asked, before explaining he felt that society at large should maintain the same level of outrage, activism and pay the same attention to the “faceless” and “nameless” women who were murdered and raped every day in South Africa.
Cele was with several other Cabinet ministers who met with representatives of civil society as well as community and students groups who had gathered at parliament in protest against gender-based violence on Thursday.
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu; Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane; Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Cele were part of the delegation.
During the engagement, the ministers listened to and took suggestions and questions from various individuals in recognition of the overwhelming sense of anger expressed by the protesting students who had come to parliament to voice their concerns about the safety of women in the country.
Cele said “I just want to start on this question of my daughter.
“She studies at UCT … she is one of my best friends. Sometimes, I even wonder if I do need a political adviser or [if] she’s enough to advise me at home. She takes me on and she pushes me back and she takes no nonsense from me. Now when I see her scared, I realise there is a problem. So it is in that context that this pain, I stay with it in the house.”
News24 previously reported that Cele was booed by thousands of university students and high school pupils who gathered outside parliament on Wednesday to protest after the murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
After making it onto a post to address them, Cele was booed when he started, “young people, we understand your anger”.
“When it happened, she came and said, ‘You know I think you’re one of the men I love most but I’m beginning to hesitate that the trust I have to you is valid’. This, my daughter said to me,” continued Cele in his address on Thursday.
“She says to me today, ‘Can you give me a licence for a gun’ and I look at her and realise she’s not joking. She says, ‘Yoh, if I can’t get that give the pepper spray, give me a knife’. So it is in that context that I raise that issue.
“But that doesn’t mean I feel the fear as you do, girl child, girl student, girl children – it will be still more.”
The minister then asked how to sustain the levels of civic action being seen across the country and especially in the Western Cape.
“How do you really continue to make it a daily issue this thing of femicide and killing women,” asked a clearly affected Cele.
“You know about four or five weeks [ago], something broke my heart severely when six young women between the age of 18 and 25 were shot and killed in Marcus Garvey.
“They did not make news. They did not make news,” he said emphatically.
“There are six of them shot in one room, killed. So how do we lift this issue? It doesn’t matter who died, whose face [it is]. Let the women be a women issue rather than be ‘some issues’.”
Western Cape police spokesperson FC van Wyk previously told News24 detectives were “hard at work” gathering clues about the murder of the six women. He added the motive for the murders was still unknown, News24 reported at the time.
Cele continued: “I just want to make that point because it should not be my daughter dying and then there is a big [hullaballoo], it should be everyone dying everywhere, faceless and nameless.
“We pick these bodies every day and we are becoming numb until we are reminded somewhere because the minister’s daughter has died but we are becoming numb.”