PRETORIA, May 20– “Women, we ask for forgiveness; we know we have failed you,” an organiser of the #NotInMyName anti-violence march Siya Jentile said in Pretoria on Saturday.
The march was intended to speak out against violence inflicted on women and children. “It has to stop and it stops now. We have been quiet for too long, but we admit we have failed you,” said Jentile.
The march was attended by more than two hundred people, including numerous celebrities. The crowd gathered at Church Square in Pretoria before peacefully heading to the Union Buildings. Some marchers held aloft placards bearing the names of women who had been killed by their partners.
Jentile said organising the march had not been an easy task, but he and his fellow organisers believed something had to be done to send a message against violence perpetrated against women and children.
“I was tired of debating the issue on twitter and I called the guys and said let’s do something. We didn’t sleep this week, We did it without any help from the government. We tried, went to radio stations, sometimes we didn’t have money but we went anyway.
“I’m challenging you; this country is ours, it belongs to us, we must not be apologetic. Imagine if murdered Karabo Mokoena was your sister. They burned her beyond recognition, what are you going to do.”
Jentile said the organisers did not want “popularity”, but rather wanted to make a change. Critics had asked what a march would achieve. However, he and his colleagues would not be deterred and would do whatever possible to help women and children.
A woman at the march, Bukelwa Moerane, 25, who earlier this year survived a kidnapping by jumping out of a moving car, appealed to men to help women when they saw they were in trouble. “Men, if you see a woman running at night and alone, help her.”
Moerane, who still has visible scars and a missing tooth from the incident, said she had just been dropped of by a taxi about 8pm at Baragwanath taxi rank in Soweto.
“The man told me to get in the car if I didn’t want to get hurt. I decided to get in because I didn’t want trouble. Along the way I realised that the door was not locked and I jumped out,” she said.
Moerane said she tried to stop motorists for help but no one stopped to help her until she reached a petrol station. “You see a man fighting a woman everyday. You must stand up for that woman. We hear women being beaten up in our neighbourhood, we hear women screaming, take a stand and help that woman. We individually need to be the change that we want to see in South Africa,” she said.
Moerane first told her story on Twitter a few weeks ago and caught the attention of a well known dentist who has offered to fix her teeth for free.