On March 20, 2017, the MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng’s Provincial Legislature, the Honourable Ms Faith Mazibuko, made a surprise visit to the home of Khulumani Sharpeville Chairperson, Mrs Selloane Phethane to recognise Mrs Phethane’s lifelong efforts to support the struggles of women for protection from gender-based violence and for their economic empowerment.
Mam’Phethane is a survivor of the terrible events of 21 March 1960, the Sharpeville Massacre. The events of that day are now commemorated as National Human Rights Day. It was the day that woke the world up to the realities of the atrocities that were being carried out by the apartheid regime and led to the day being recognised by the United Nations as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and apartheid as a crime against humanity.
The struggle for the realisation of the dignity and equality of all people continues almost 60 years later in the unceasing struggle against racism and sexism in South Africa and across the world. It was the struggle to which struggle veteran, recently deceased Mr Ahmed Kathrada gave his life so selflessly, leading to his 26 year-long political imprisonment alongside Mr Nelson Mandela, whom he called his “older brother”. While Comrade Kathrada sustained a lifelong struggle against racial discrimination that led to a system of “small-mindedness and pettiness” that Uncle Kathy and his comrades refused to allow to crush the human spirit of those committed to triumphing over forces of evil, Mam’Phethane took up the struggle against the still pervasive reality of sexism.
This involved her over many years in providing trauma counselling services to victims of gender-based violence in her community. Mam’Phethane, Khulumani is proud of you and we are grateful for the official recognition of your contributions by the Gauteng Legislature to the well-being and empowerment of women in South Africa. May God protect you as you continue to serve the members of your community and of our country.