Statement by Ms Thandi Nontenja UDEMWO Secretary General

The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) believes it is a travesty that women in the workplace, both in the private and public service, are not safe from sexual harassment, abuse, violence and rape. One of the main reasons why people with much needed skills, such as doctors and nurses, leave for greener pastures is that they are not safe at their places of workhands.

We have much sympathy with, Ms Bongiwe Mnguni, a nurse who was beaten and raped at the Helen Joseph Hospital. We hope that she fully recovers from this horrific experience; our hearts go out to her.

Although Ms Mnguni has suffered much harm to her body, mind and soul, we commend her for the courage to speak out. Hopefully this act will encourage more abused women to come forward.

We also hope that Ms Mnguni will not leave the matter there. The police must investigate the incident and arrest the monster who attacked her. This man deserves nothing more than to rot in jail for the remainder of his years.

UDEMWO believes that the hype created during Women’s Month and the 16 Days of Activism is all for nought. Government throws big parties under the name of sensitising the nation to the plight of women and girl-children. Journalists write endless stories during those times. They seem to be forgetting the rest of the year. Looking at this from a man’s perspective, they feel left out when all of government’s efforts are targeted at women’s issues – government should give some attention to this.

The big picture looks bleak and UDEMWO calls on government to urgently make the places of work of their employees safe. Identifying the problem and talking about solutions is not enough – do something and find the criminals who makes us live in fear.