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PROVINCIAL HOUSE CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON WOMEN

Greetings ladies and gentlemen of the media

Thank you very much for gracing this media briefing organised by the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders with your presence.

 

Introduction

The Provincial House of Traditional Leaders held its ordinary session from the 30th of September to the 1st of October 2019. The meeting focused on a number of issues pertinent to the role of the institution of traditional leadership in supporting our constitutional democracy and in facilitating the programme to drive development and growth, especially in our rural areas.

The House reflected on the following key issues that are presently in the public discourse:

 

  • Gender-based violence;
  • The ongoing land discussions; and
  • Violence directed at foreign nationals

After deep reflections and deliberations, the House resolved as follows:

 

Gender-based violence

The Provincial House of Traditional Leaders joins all sectors of society in condemning and abhorring the incidents of murder, rape, and other forms of violence directed at women and children. These incidents are doing a lot of harm to the reputation of our country and pose a serious threat to unity and cohesion within our society. The rising tide of incidents of violent attacks and sexual offenses against women and children are a sure sign that something is broken within the fabric of our society.

As part of efforts to stem this sickening tide, as traditional leaders, we have resolved to lead campaigns in all areas within the jurisdiction of traditional leaders with a view of raising awareness and imparting information in order to protect our people against gender-based violence.

We have committed to partnering with government and all civil society structures to identify the causes of these maladies and the hotspots where they occur most frequently so that we can nip these dastardly deeds in the bud. We support calls for those found guilty of these acts to be named and shamed and not be allowed to reside in traditional communities.

To this end, we call upon the law enforcement agencies to continuously engage with traditional councils and provide them with regular statistical information so that, together, we can wage a united front against this scourge. We will also pursue engagements with the police leadership so that the cluster commanders and station commanders can have regular and joint initiatives with traditional communities in combating gender-based violence.

Let us be absolutely clear. We regard this violence meted to our women, children and vulnerable groups as a declaration of war and we have to provide concomitant responses to it wherever it occurs. We ask that programmes aimed at empowering women to identify early warning signs of gender-based violence be intensified and that the necessary resources be made available also to traditional leadership structures. At the same time, the justice system must mete out the harshest and maximum of sentences to all those found to be perpetrators of violence against women, children and vulnerable groups in our society.

Key Programmes on gender-based violence by Amakhosi

We will be partnering in rolling out Isibaya samadoda (Men’s forum) in all traditional councils where we will be mentoring young men with the intention of inculcating the culture of respect for women and children.

All amakhosi committed themselves to conducting an audit on any part of culture or tradition that may exist within traditional communities and which discriminates against women so that it can be brought to the House for review

 

Land debate

The KZN Provincial House of Traditional Leaders also noted the ongoing debates around land related matters, especially those triggered by the Presidential Review Panel and the Amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to enable expropriation of land without compensation.

The Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, first and foremost, wishes to recognise that the loss of land by indigenous people during the colonial and apartheid regimes was indeed a painful and sorrowful chapter in the history of South Africa’s native citizens.

Land is inextricably tied to our own identity. It is an important part of our heritage that since time immemorial we have used for socio-economic advancement of our people. Many of our forebears fought pitch battles and paid the supreme price in defence of the land.

It is against this background that we support a speedy land reform programme that could result in redress and return of the land that was taken illegally from traditional communities. Today we speak of some traditional leaders who are said to be landless due to the history of dispossession, hence an implementation of land initiatives that respond to previous injustices will be supported.

As traditional leaders, we have a vested interest in all land matters and it is against this background that we wish to state our support for the call by His Majesty the King that this matter of land be handled with care and in a manner that does not divide our society.

We welcome the approach by His Excellency the President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in convening the Land Summit scheduled for October 2019. As traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal, we have initiated a programme that will enable us to have a meaningful participation in this Land Summit.

To this end, we have resolved to visit and consult with all Local Houses to ascertain the input of traditional leaders on how the land should be distributed and to whom. We have established a task team that will consult on behalf of the House on all land matters whether it is the Ingonyama Trust land, state land or private land.

The input gained from this exercise will help us respond to the wider debate about Ingonyama Trust land, expropriation of land without compensation, title deeds in traditional communities as well as pertinently asked questions about who should be allocated the land.

We reiterate the position that land is not for sale but that it is a socio-economic instrument that should be used for the settlement of our people, food production and development.

 

Attacks on foreign nationals

The House also took a position on the recent incidents of violence directed at foreign nationals in our country. As traditional leaders, we are against all attacks on foreign nationals. Those behind these acts must be exposed and reported so that they can face the full might of the law.

As amakhosi, we are custodians of peace and unity and we frown upon any acts of violence or discrimination against fellow human beings. We will be engaging with all our structures to ensure that no one engages in these abhorrent acts in the name of culture, tradition or the institution of traditional leadership.

Having said this, we want to appeal to government to ensure that regulations for effective control of the influx of foreign nationals are adhered to within the confines of the law and our country’s sovereignty. Government clearly needs to tighten border controls to ensure that those who do enter our country are in possession of the correct documentation.

We want to reiterate that like all other states, our country is not a banana republic. No one should obtain a South African citizenship through the back door. We commit to protecting the foreign nationals who are within our borders legally and, in the same vein, encourage government to engage with all states of origin of foreign nationals to invest into creating conditions that do not lead to people leaving their own countries.

With the crime levels on the increase, we are concerned about the undocumented nationals and we also ask government to act decisively against those involved in criminal activities and that their stay in the country bereviewed.

 

Conclusion

As the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders in KwaZulu-Natal, we commit ourselves to honouring the struggles of our forebears by defending the women, children and the vulnerable groups in our society. We cannot allow our country to become a war zone. We also commit ourselves to peaceful coexistence with foreign nationals who reside in this country legally.

We are fully aware of the great responsibility that lies on our shoulders as traditional leaders to create a peaceful, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. An equitable redistribution of land seized from us in the past is one of the prerequisites of this ultimate objective.

 

We thank you for your attention.

 

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