Inhumanity to women

OUR story this week about a Mpumalanga man convicted of shooting and killing a man he believed to be his wife's lover is another reminder of our attitude to violence against women.

In a nutshell, Mandla Mathebula first pleaded guilty to a charge of murder after killing Bhekumuzi Nkuna, who he was convinced was the partner in his wife's extra marital affair. Then on the day of his sentencing this week, he changed his plea, arguing that he had actually meant to kill his wife and Nkuna was unfortunate to be within range of his bullets.

Mathebula's plea explanation is a reminder of the ingrained attitudes of South African men who believe it to be their right to "discipline" women who do not live up to the patriarchal entrenched moral values.

In terms of this Neanderthal thought system, women never get to be their own persons making own decisions, but perpetually belong to their fathers, boyfriends or husbands.

To that end, violence against such "deviant" women, and sometimes their "accomplices", is seen as justifiable, even honourable. In this context, such crimes are escalated to misnomers such as "crimes of passion" or "honour killings" in some societies.

We note that this case is being heard in the month when South Africa makes an introspection regarding how it treats its women.

Hopefully, the court will return a judgment that is a reminder that what we signed up for was a society based on human dignity, equality and freedom for both men and women.