Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has challenged traditional leaders and churches to do away with all forms of discrimination against women, as freedom was worthless without the protection of women.
Delivering the keynote address at a packed Caluza Sports Complex, in Pietermaritzburg to mark national Women’s Day, Malema decried the levels of abuse against women and called on party members to fight against this. "What have we become in South Africa where mothers and grandmothers are no longer safe, because they are going to be raped," said Malema.
He called on party members to deal with the increasing culture of rape by reporting such attitudes and actions so that such members could be removed from party ranks.
He added that while the party was dealing with this challenge, churches and traditional structures were still allowing some forms of discrimination to take place. "We have churches and other places of worship where women are not allowed to share the same space with women. Traditional leaders do not allow single women to own land and this should not be allowed," said Malema. While not naming the churches where such practices were rife, Malema told the crowd that he would do so at some point.
He also attacked institutions of higher learning, particularly Rhodes University, for allowing a culture of rape to prevail. “Today they are talking about days of mourning, that is nothing but pretentious mourning, do not allow rape culture to prevail on campuses,” said Malema to enthusiastic party supporters.
He added that while it had been widely reported that Rhodes university student Khensani Maseko had committed suicide, the person that had allegedly committed the rape had forced the student to kill herself, and should be charged with murder. "Rhodes should be ashamed for allowing this (rape of a student) to happen, and every member should be a security guard to ensure that none of our female students get raped," said Malema.
The EFF leader said the party was ready to run South Africa as it had demonstrated before by making bold calls on matters that had become part of daily discussion. "When we said social grants should be increased for everyone and we said land should be given to black people without compensation, everyone was against it but now everyone agrees. When we make a point, everyone follows the EFF call,” said Malema, who added that opposition parties were following in the EFF's footsteps.
Malema was joined by a number of the EFF's top leadership echelon.