Statement issued by Thandi Nontenja – UDEMWO Secretary General

The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) is shocked by the events surrounding the death of Eskom employee Thembisile Yende. She disappeared for almost two weeks and finding her body at her place of work is concerning in the extreme.

The suspicious circumstance around her death is compounded by the fact that her car was apparently parked outside the offices, yet a police search did not reveal that she was, dead or alive, locked inside. It becomes quite worrying if women cannot even rely on the police to locate missing persons; in particular the more vulnerable women and girl-children.

This is another example of how exposed the women has become in the South African society of today. We have a patriarchal, male dominated, culture in this Country where women are deemed second-class citizens. It does not help when the very minister, responsible for promoting our cause, makes hypocritical statements about a victim of violence being “internally weak”. Minister Shabangu is inefficient and is definitely not doing our cause any favours. President Zuma would have been well-advised to have removed her in his recent Cabinet reshuffle; we need a minister in this portfolio that is uncompromising in fighting for women’s rights.

Minister Shabangu must be proactive in addressing the recent increase in gender-based violence. This phenomenon shows that she and her department are, or at least have been, complacent. She clearly has no concrete plan of action to address this issue and UDEMWO wants to see a bigger budget allocation to finding effective tools to address gender violence and changing societal perceptions, as well as male attitudes.

UDEMWO calls on the South African Police Services to speedily get to the bottom of this case and find the perpetrator/s of this heinous crime.