forum seeks solutions

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The assault on Zandile Mpanza of Umlazi by men who live at T-section's Unit 17 men's hostel will be topping the agenda at a two-day conference of the Commission on Gender Equity.

The conference is aimed at discussing violence and abuse against women.

It comes barely two weeks after a young woman was sexually assaulted by taxi drivers in Noord Street, in Johannesburg, for wearing a miniskirt.

Mpanza was allegedly assaulted and forced to parade naked in July by a group of hostel dwellers for wearing pants at the hostel in KwaZulu-Natal.

Her home was vandalised and she has been living in hiding with relatives since.

The violation of her rights to wear clothes of her choice received widespread criticism from the public and women's rights groups.

Four men - Thulani Cele, Sibusiso Cele, Wiseman Mzotho and Zitha Nzuza - were arrested over the attack. Their trial will start on April 9 at the Umlazi magistrate's court.

Commissioner Mfanuzelwe Shozi said after a series of cases of women abuse, the commission decided to hold a conference in KwaZulu-Natal.

"The conference will determine what action needs to be taken on all cases involving women abuse.

"But I can assure you that a resolution taken at the conference will have a huge impact on pending cases of women abuse, including that of Mpanza and the one at Noord Street," said Shozi.

He said those expected to attend include victims, national chairman of the Gender Commission, Nomboniso Gasa, Women's rights advocacy groups, KZN Network on violence against women and children abuse, the South African Lawyers Association, gays and lesbians groups and others.

The conference started yesterday, but substantive discussions will officially begin today.