As activists fight for greater protection for women and for men to be held accountable for abuse, intimidation and violence, at least four politicians – from the EFF and ANC – have been named on Twitter accounts.
Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Njabulo Nzuza and EFF leader in Limpopo Jossey Buthane have each been accused of gender-based violence by anonymous people on the Twitter accounts.
Another EFF member was also named on one of the accounts but News24 has withheld his name because he could not be reached for comment before publication.
The Twitter accounts were created as part of the #AmINext movement, established in reaction to several incidents of abuse and murder in which the victims were women.
The incidents include the murders of boxing champion Leighandre Jegels, university students Uyinene Mrwetyana and Jesse Hess, horse rider Meghan Cremer and Cape Town woman Lynette Volschenk.
State of emergency
The incidents prompted many South Africans, including former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, to call on the government to declare a state of emergency.
Saul, who has become popular for his progressive government reforms since he was installed as premier, was accused of rape and the accusers claim to have knowledge of other cases of assault.
“I was still a small kid who knew nothing about sex,” the Twitter post reads.
Saul denied these claims to News24.
Northern Cape ANC secretary Naledi Gaosekwe released a statement saying the claims against Saul undermined, discredited, and cast aspersions on Saul’s integrity. She added that the provincial executive encouraged Saul to explore available legal means to expose “faceless people running such malicious campaigns”.
“The PEC (provincial executive committee) under the leadership of Dr Saul views the scourge of violence against women and children in a very serious light and supports all efforts from government and civil society organisations to fight the scourge,” she said.
Nzuza’s face was posted on one of the Twitter pages but no details of his alleged misdeeds.
However, he denied allegations of sexual abuse, saying that he has reported the matter to the police.
Shocked by allegations
Speaking to News24, Nzuza said he encouraged anyone who had been abused to report it to the police.
“I don’t know why our faces and names are there. The issue of women abuse is a serious matter. I must state clearly I’ve never forced myself on any women that is why I encourage women to report these matters to the police.”
The EFF’s Buthane said he was shocked by allegations made against him. He denied ever sexually assaulting women, adding that he would stand against anyone who abused women.
In a post directed to EFF Gauteng leader Mandisa Mashego and the police, an unknown person claimed to know of several rape and sexual assault cases against Buthane.
“There have been multiple cases opened in his name but nothing. Go to UL (University of Limpopo) girls are crying there as he threatens them that they will be banished from campus and will never go to any varsity because he is powerful (sic),” the post read.
But Buthane said: “I have committed myself to defend women against any form of abuse and that commitment will never change till my last day on earth.”
Responding to the tweet, Mashego said EFF members who were proven to have assaulted women must consider themselves expelled.
“Honestly, we can’t coexist with animals not nurse people’s piggish behaviour (sic),” Mashego wrote. Mashego further discouraged making unsubstantiated allegations on social media, urging women to report rape cases to the police.
In a media briefing on Tuesday, ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini called for major legislative changes to help address gender-based violence.
The league, which has in the past spoken out against patriarchy in its party, proposed castration and harsher sentences for sex offenders.
South Africa has one of the world’s worst statistics of reported rape and murder cases against women.
Speaking to the media during his visit to Tshwane University of Technology on Tuesday to speak at a Sasco gathering, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said it was necessary to check the facts first.
Magashule added that he would not react to allegations.
“We live in a world of social media, we live in a world of fake news. We have to check what is fact and not fact. We support women, we support young girls.”
EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee told News24 the party was more than welcome to bring up the issue at a media briefing scheduled for Thursday at the party’s headquarters.
Earlier this week, the EFF released a statement decrying the recent spike in femicide cases.
“We can never solve a problem when we keep denying it. Women die at the hands of their lovers, brothers, neighbours and parents. These are men who walk among us, and often are never suspects or thought of as capable of such horrific crimes,” said national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.