Press Release - Gender Based Violence

24 August 2017
The Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI) releases the following statement:

ASASWEI takes note of media reports and images circulating on social media, regarding the involvement of the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, in a case of assaulting a woman in a public place (restaurant). We also note Mr Manana’s letter of apology to the Vice Chancellors of public universities in South Africa on 15 August and his subsequent resignation from his post on 19 August. We respect Mr Manana’s acknowledgement of his behaviour and his decision to resign from his post.

In addition, ASASWEI notes with great concern the reports that the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, who is a social worker and the leader of the ANC Women’s League, justified the assault by indicating that “Manana must not lose his job, not because he hasn’t done anything wrong, but because ‘there are those that are actually worse than him’” (Daily Maverick, 22 August 2017, Minister’s words in italics).

We urge the Minister of Social Development, as the protector of women and children, to take a stronger stand against perpetrators of violence against women, including Mr Manana. We urge her to take the lead in exposing ‘the others’ that she is aware have perpetrated violence against women, so that they can be held accountable for their actions. Taking a strong position on violent actions against women is even more important during the month of August, which is the month dedicated to women.

Social justice is the core value of social work, and hence we are concerned about the message to women, children and other vulnerable groups if violent actions are condoned. Protection of women and children is high on the government’s agenda and is supported by the Constitution and other laws and policies. On Women’s Day (9 August 2017), President Jacob Zuma indicated that “Government is playing its part in fighting these crimes against women. South Africa must be safe for women and children in every corner. The South African Police Service has been directed to treat crimes against women and children as an apex priority.”

ASASWEI calls upon the government, and the Minister of Social Development in particular, to take a firm stand and consistent position on violent actions against women, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator.