Municipal official cited for calling #AmINext marchers 'loose women'

A University of KZN student is overcome with emotion during a protest over security on campus.
A University of KZN student is overcome with emotion during a protest over security on campus.

The embattled Msunduzi municipality in KwaZulu-Natal has again come under spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

This time, organisers of the #AmINext march are dragging the municipality to the Commission for Gender Equality accusing the municipality of being insensitive to the struggle of women in the face of gender-based violence.

This comes after a municipality employee allegedly made derogatory remarks to young women who on Friday marched through the city of Pietermaritzburg calling for the end to the sexual violence directed at women. The unnamed official allegedly labelled the marchers, mainly students, "loose women", who had failed to preserve their virginity.

The statement attributed to the official, made in Zulu, the man allegedly said: “Sukani zifebe niyangisitha ngifuna ukubona amatshitshi, loosely translated (you’re blocking my way sluts, I want to see the virgins). The official accused of hurling the insults at the marching women was apparently tasked with receiving the memorundum from them.

“We were greatly offended by his statement calling us loose women. As a public representative he should be in the forefront defending, protecting and upholding the rights of women in this country. Most of the marchers were rape survivors and victims of sexual violence. His disparaging comments shows that he condones what other men are doing out there,” leader of the march, Zanele Mlangeni, said.

Mlangeni said they would take their frustration to the Commission for Gender Equality so that the incident be investigated and the alleged offfender brought to book.

"We want him to be sanctioned so that other like-minded men who disrespect women can learn a lesson," Mlangeni added.

The march coincided with that of the parade by the Zulu maidens preparing to leave for the annual reed dance held at King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Enyokeni place in Nongoma at the weekend. Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha confirmed the incident, saying they were appalled at what is alleged to have transpired.

“We will urgently investigate the conduct of our official and if found guilty he will face the music. These are dangerous comments considering the wave of gender based violence meted out to women. The municipality distances itself from such dangerous and careless comments,” said Mafumbatha.

Makhosazane Nxumalo, provincial manager for Commission for Gender Equality said they will investigate the incident.

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