Archive | May, 2017

The war on women’s bodies.

23 May

The war on our bodies has been an ongoing struggle for decades, dating back to the 1970’s. People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) was formed in 1979 by a group of women volunteers in order to provide referral services and shelter to women experiencing domestic violence.
The word “jack-roll” or ‘jack rolling”, started during the 1980s by a gang called ‘the jackrollers’, it was the abduction of women in townships who would then subjected to lengthly periods of gang rape.

It was only after The Bill Of Rights was signed, did women receive formal recognition as equal citizens. For many years South African women were under the legal control of their fathers and husbands, this is still the same in many African countries.
The domestic violence act 116 of 1998 was signed: To provide for the issuing of protection orders with regard to domestic violence; and for matters connected therewith.

About ten years ago, somebody asked me when I will stop marching and pushing the anti-abuse campaign, my answer was when the abuse stops.

I have written many blogs on the state of affairs regarding rape and abuse in 2014 I wrote about a women who called out for help after she had been raped, she called on the police for assistance, her response came from the Hillbrow police station where six policemen( Men) were called to a rape case, they found the perpetrator and let him go. The survivor was present and requested medical attention, they denied that and told her to sleep it off as she had been drinking. I have highlighted on many cases where survivors have received ill treatment from police personnel when trying to report a case. Like many activists and organisations, this outcry and call has been the forefront of many campaigns, yet there has been very little change.
Over the past years we have seen the disrespect of women’s lives from the very publicised murder cases such as Oscar Pistorius, who killed his girlfriend Reeve Steenkamp and received a reduced jail sentence to Shrien Devani who was acquitted for murdering his wife Anna Dewani and Thato Kutumela who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo. Former Soweto community radio presenter Donald “Donald Duck” Sebolai was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend, Rachel “Dolly” Tshabalala.
Unfortunately they have been hundreds if not thousands who have gone unnoticed.

Women in our present day still face many obstacles and challenges which can be related to poverty, violence and abuse in the home, unemployment, access to quality health care and legal representation.
Financial dependance of their male partners or husbands has increased vulnerability to domestic violence and rape.
The girl child has been greatly affected by the personal home front as well as discrimination at school, from the subject choices which have seen to be suitable fro male learners, girls have been sexually harassed, raped and abuse, some forced to drop out due to teenage pregnancy, possibly caused by rape. Many young girls miss school during their menstrual cycles as they cannot afford sanitary towels and tampons.

Over the past few weeks there has been in increase in reported crimes against women. These barbaric acts have been publicised and there has been a huge outcry from all sectors, that we need an intervention. This is true but we need to understand and own up to the fact that this has been on ongoing problem for years. The change that has occurred is that more incidents are being reported and now we hear a strong outcry from men.
The rate of crimes and murders that have escalated within the LGBT community. Due to the stigma attached many cases are not even heard and still remain unresolved.

Where to from now?
To start with, our men need to hold each other accountable. Many years ago I dated a man who’s business partner continuously made jokes about beating up women and this frustrated me, causing many arguments in our home. My then partners undermining attitude was that it was just a joke and I should get over it by response was and still is the same, if you joke about it, you condone the action. We need to create a shift in our conversations and attitudes towards women.

Gender equality starts in the home. There should not be gender specific roles for boys and girls, parents should be seen as equal. Children are taught and emulate what their parents do. Fighting in the home has proven to have lifelong effects on children. Many people decide to remain in abusive relationships as they feel that separation will affect the children, the violence and hatred is what affects the children.
If incidents happen at schools and remain unresolved, notify the department of eduction. No child should be scared to go to school or face any form df discrimination whilst trying to get an education.

The police need to be held accountable. Correct protocol measures need to be adhered with taking down reports, recording crimes and treatment of survivors.
We need harsher laws for rapists and abusers. Women need to stop being blamed for what happened to them. Victim blaming is still a major concern. I have made many reports and complaints to IPD with no response but if we get large number of valid complaints, then action will take place. Their contact details are:  
Address in Gauteng City Forum Building
 114 Madiba Street
Telephone number: 012 399 0000

Email address

Our minister of police Mr Fikile Mbalula is very active on twitter: @mbalulafikile
Social media, should be used for good and not just scandal. If an incident occurs, recording it is necessary but so is justice. Record the dialogue and images but also record relevant information such as car number plates, what the perpetrator looks like, the exact location of where the crime takes place, such as a road sign, building structure etc
One should notify the police immediately and seek help for the survivor. We should make more citizen complaints, hold our police accountable. There are too many reported cased where investigating officers receive bribes and then in questioning the survivors, telling them that they should drop the case and convince them that they would not survive long trails. Granted trials are long and tedious and the incident will have to be repeated many a times but by keeping quiet will not help as the incident will still be repeated in your mind.

If you need assistance here are a few organisations that I have worked with and strongly endorse:

1. FEW: Forum For The Empowerment of Women
Call: +27 11 403 1906/7

Social media:



FEW was established by black lesbian women activists living in Johannesburg in 2001.In a post 1994 South Africa and with the new constitution of 1996 recognising sexual orientation within the equality clause, it was clear that we had to organize ourselves to ensure that we were able to claim and live the rights entrenched in the constitution. Already, with increasing numbers of LGBTI people coming out and being visible both in everyday life as well as within human rights defending work, the age-old issues of discrimination, stigmatisation and marginalization were becoming more blatant. The group which initially began the conversation about organizing black lesbian women were concerned that within the broader LGBTI and women’s human rights issues, black lesbian women were more vulnerable because of intersecting identities, contexts and realities.
We also recognised the power within our community – both black lesbian women, women in general and the LGBTI community – to confront the abuses that were being perpetrated against us in a democratic South Africa. Initially, the focus was on social space and service provision, including counseling and information, education and communication on key issues, health and related realities of lesbian lives. A key focus was on the issue of hate crimes, particularly rape and sexual assault, which were being reported in growing numbers. The hate crimes were being perpetrated based on assumptions about sexual orientation and gender identity which were seen as deviant and so worthy of responses by communities. This homophobia was directed at all LGBTI people, but the targeting of black lesbian women for this “fixing” was obvious and linked to the patriarchal nature of our society which in turn fed heteronormativity. Projects included a small scholarship fund for survivors of hate crime related violence, drama and soccer as processes to engage with black lesbian women.

2. POWA: people Opposing Women Abuse:
Telephone: -11 642 4345/6
Twitter: @powa_za

POWA is a “feminist, women’s rights organisation that provides both services, and engages in advocacy in order to ensure the realisation of women’s rights and thereby improve women’s quality of life”.
POWA’s uniqueness as an organisation is in providing both services to survivors and engaging in advocacy using a feminist and intersectional analysis. Our work is rooted in the belief that change can only be said to be effective when women’s lives are directly improved through our interventions. We also believe that there is no single route to change, and thus constantly seek new and creative approaches in our programming to achieve the change we seek.

Frontline Services – Shelters, counseling, and legal advice
As one of our core frontline services, POWA provides shelter services for clients (and their children where relevant) who have been the victims of GBV. These services are located in the East and West Rand, and a “second stage” house is located in Berea. POWA also provides several forms of counselling to clients (including shelter clients), such as face-to-face counselling, support groups (facilitated by a social worker) and telephone counselling and referrals. The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA also assist women (approximately 50 per month) with telephonic and face-to-face-legal advice to women, court preparation and support, and referral to other professionals and practitioners (pro bono).

The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA works to “provide quality women-centred legal service and engage in national and regional advocacy for the protection and promotion of women’s rights.” POWA’s advocacy work includes advocating for legal reform, for example, parliamentary law reform submissions as well as strategic litigation. We actively participate in national advocacy. We are a member of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), a network of 26 Civil Society Organisations and Development Partners. In South Africa, POWA is the lead organisation spearheading the eight-nation Raising Her Voice Campaign, working to empower women to hold governments accountable to commitments on GBV and HIV.

Aluta Continua.

To continue the dialogue contact me via Facebook or twitter:

An Open letter to our Ministers of health.

12 May

To whom it may concern.

I am writing this letter as a plea for urgent assistance. Health care has been a serious issue in our country for decades and as we have seen some improvement in some sectors, there seems to be a major decline in other areas.

In 2011, my maternal grandmother was admitted to the then Paul Kruger hospital, in Rustenburg North West province. As I was in Johannesburg at the time, I immediately drove through the day after her admission. I was rather perturbed at the state of the hospital from the lack of hygiene and lack of empathy from the nurses.
We began making plans to have her moved to a private hospital, but as it was a Sunday an ambulance was only available the following day and that is when we were going to admit her. Unfortunately Gogo died that evening. The death certificate stated: natural causes.
Fast forward to 2015, my father needed medical attention after he had visited the local clinic on a number of occasions and each time he was diagnosed with bronchitis. After a few visits my mother felt that he had not really recovered and called us to take him to the hospital. The memory of the provincial hospital was still fresh in my mind and we then decided to take him to Ferncrest private hospital. The reception and treatment from the nurses and doctors was absolutely astounding. They immediately conducted tests on him and discovered that his sodium levels were way below normal and that there was a large mass on his lungs. The immediate treatment would be to get the sodium levels up and back to normal as he was now in a state of confusion and he could not walk and talk. The medial practitioners from the local clinic never recorded this condition.

Within 45 minutes he was admitted into a ward, they soon realized that he needed high care and was transferred to the ICU high care. Although this was a hefty financial commitment, the finance department was very accommodating and put my fathers interests first. The attending doctor took down my number and was in constant contact with me, breaking down his condition. I knew he was in safe hands.
The level of empathy and concern stretched as far as the ladies in the finance department and nurses holding me whilst I needed to cry and gather my thoughts.
Three days later he was out of danger and back to normal and two days after that he was sent to a normal ward. It was a great relief to see my father back to his bubbly normal state.
As the previous week had depleted our finances, the doctors on duty were aware that he was a cash patient they then gave the advice to have him discharged and be moved to a provincial hospital as the water mass on his lungs could be a number of cases, either TB or cancer, either way the condition was not too severe and a provincial hospital should be able to take care of it.

We left the hospital with high hopes. I was not happy with taking him to the local hospital, so we drove to Leratong hospital in the east rand of Johannesburg. On arrival at 18h00, we were only called into casualty around 20h00 where we were directed to a room bustling with mayhem and chaos. The doctors on duty were clearly overwhelmed and tired, I can honesty attest to this as the referral letter from the private hospital was lost within minutes, his x-rays were misplaced and the third attending doctor admitted that they were understaffed and that she had not slept in days. As much as I tried to have empathy for them, my main concern was my 84-year-old father who now needed oxygen and was cold.
At 01h00 he was finally wheeled up to the ward, I waited another thirty minutes or so and then the nurse was changing him or should I say put a sheet around him as there were no hospital pyjamas, they refused to allow him to keep his gown as it was hospital policy. At that point it was too late in the evening to argue. I gave my papa a kiss and a hug and went home. Little did I know that that was the last time I saw him alive.
The following day as I was on route to visit him, they called to say that he had passed on. Due to the trauma and sorrow we never had the energy to pursue the causes of death, it was only after the burial that I wished I had. I was informed that in most cases in provincial hospitals he probably did not receive oxygen and possibly died through the night. Then the nurses on duty check the bodies before visiting hours. Ironically I was called 15 minutes before visiting hours were meant to start.

Now in May, 2017, my 71-year-old uncle, falls sick and is taken to the Job Shimankana Tabane Hospital. The previous 10 days he had been receiving treatment from the local clinic but his condition had deteriorated.
He was taken into casualty at 11h00 on Saturday 6 May. By 19h00 he had not received a bed. The family was told to leave as he would be getting a bed and attended to. Having faith in the nurses on duty, they left. My sister arrived at 08h00 the following day only to find him still sitting in in the exact same chair. Out of frustration and emotion she raised the alarm and demanded attention to the inhumane way in which he had been treated and the hostile attitude from the nurses. Finally the head of department and the doctors on duty, who by the way tried on many occasions to assist but the admin part of the hospital is not in their care. My uncle was finally given a bed in casualty. The next few days we visited him in casualty and had to bring warm tea, as food was not distributed to patients in casualty but due to the circumstances the head nurse made plans and had food parcels delivered but no water or tea.
On Tuesday 9 May we arrived at the hospital and were told that he had moved to a ward.
We then met and sat down with the head nurse in charge Sister Angie Marobe. At first I thought it was just hospital administration trying to do damage control but I genuinely believe and felt her apology. She apologized for the terrible and inhumane treatment that he received but also was honest and practical with us.
The fact remains that the hospital does not have enough beds to accommodate everyone. She explained that the people who had arrived after my uncle were given treatment and beds as they were on a different code to him and were sent to different departments. He was considered as code orange which although treatable was not considered as a danger and therefore left on the side. My argument to that is that age should have been taken into consideration, she agreed. She also admitted that the nurses on duty should have been honest with us about the bed situation, as they knew that a bed would not be available and that if we were told then the decision to remove him would have been ours to make. Instead the nurses on duty lied and said a bed would be made available.
The sister explained that patients who are still admitted but their conditions improve are then removed from their beds and the beds are given to new demanding patients. This revelation horrified us to say the least.
I am very thankful for her candid and honest discussion and I feel real empathy for the doctors and nurses who work under those conditions. I asked her about resources and that was another issue that they are faced with. I can personally attest to that as after our meeting we had to move through the casualty ward and I saw doctors attending to patients and taking blood without gloves on, those are a few of the resources that the hospital is lacking. Perhaps interpersonal skills for the nurses should also be taken into consideration.

I wrote a post on my Facebook page airing my frustrations and asking for assistance. I was horrified by some of the stories relayed, of how so many people have been through the same ordeal some far worse than ours. Clearly this is not a provincial problem but a national problem. One reply suggested I contact the national spokesperson, Mr. Joe Maila. I immediately wrote a post on his Facebook page and he replied promptly and suggested a send a complaint to the CEO of the hospital. I then immediately phoned the hospital and was given an email address and on 09May at 10:29, I sent an email to a BMoagi.
I still have not received a response.
I have also sent mail to the email address that I found on the National health government website. I still have not received a response.

So in conclusion, we have accepted the apology from Sister Angie Marobe and thank her and her head of department fro not dismissing us, however we cannot let the matter rest.
We are dealing with two major concerns, firstly with lives and more importantly we are dealing with the lives of the elderly. What about those families who don’t have nieces or nephews who can drive them back and forth or even worse those people who do not believe that they have a voice or who know their rights? How many more cases are to follow ours?

Secondly, we are dealing with doctors and nurses who have been forced to work in such conditions, doing their best with what resources they have.

If the situation is so dire that the hospitals do not have enough beds, then what is the plan ahead? In business when you run out of resources you join forces, surely in this case, could the hospital not have communication with surrounding hospitals, as a temporary measure? Is there a plan to build more hospitals closer to the communities? What guarantees do we have that people who need medical attention receive it?
Please may we have answer and solutions, as we can no longer allow our communities to die in the hands of people who should be taking care of us?

Remember, Nelson Mandela once said, ‘To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.’

Yours truly,
Rosie Motene.