Two prominent foundations celebrated women; while lamenting the issues that they are currently facing in the country.  

The Ahmed Kathrada, Sophie and Henry De Bruyn Legacy foundations held their annual women’s month commemoration at the Avalon and Newclare cemeteries on Sunday, August 6. 

The event was to pay homage to the fallen heroines who led the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria against the apartheid government’s pass laws. 

While reflecting on the role these women played in the apartheid era, representatives of the foundations did not hide their disappointment at the current state of the government and on issues relating to corruption and service delivery. The event also highlighted on women’s challenges and protecting whistle-blowers.

The representative of the Sophie and Henry De Bruyn Legacy foundation, Sonja De Bruyn said: “We know that young women of today are suffering with their own challenges, including the lack of access to hygiene products such as sanitary pads. We know the scourge of gender-based violence.”  

According to the Human Rights Watch 2022 World Report ,South Africa has one of the highest GBV rates in the world and over 60 000 rape cases were reported in 2022. 

Adding on what was said, Zarina Motala of the Action for Accountability Project, said that “Corruption and mismanagement in government takes away the dignity of every single person in our country; it takes away their constitutional right to healthcare, water, education, and electricity.” 

The call for justice  

Some of the reflections coming through on the day were the call for justice and the protection of whistleblowers as this year marks the second-year anniversary of the assassination of Babita Deokaran. 

Deokaran was a whistleblower within the health department who lifted the lid on corruption at the Tembisa Hospital, she was killed outside her home in August 2021.  

Former director-general of the GCIS Phumla Williams said, “Babita was brutally murdered for doing the right thing, in reporting corruption. That is what we should be fighting for.” She added that “we should be calling on the security cluster to make sure that justice is being served.” 

Speaking about the safety of women, particularly whistleblowers, the Ahmed Kathrada foundation’s representative, Neeshan Balton said, “We need to demand more from the criminal justice system, they [police] need to do more than just paying lip service to the protection of women.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: From left to right: Zarina Motala, Rahima Moosa’s son and Neeshan Balton standing at Rahima Moosa’s grave. Photo: Sbongile Molambo