A GROUP of 500 men led by Bitou municipality mayor Memory Booysen marched through the streets of Plettenberg Bay yesterday to protest against the”high levels” of abuse against women and children in the holiday town.
The march, organised by the municipality and the Treatment Action Campaign, also saw a petition signed by 1000 local men being handed over to Plettenberg Bay police chief Colonel Gideon Lugelo.
The memorandum asked the SAPS to speed up the roll-out of sexual offences courts, for rapists to face harsher jail terms, for suspected sex offenders to be denied bail and for police to receive better training to handle these cases effectively.
The town was recently rocked by the rape of a 22-year-old student near the Shell Ultra City on the outskirts of town. The woman had been abducted from Plettenberg Bay’s popular Main Street.
An influx of visitors to the town is expected at the end of this week, when Eastern and Western Cape schools officially close for the mid-year holidays.
Gathering at the garage from 10am, the men brandished posters reading “Real men don’t rape”, “Don’t look away, report and stand up against rape” and “Root out rapists in our communities”.
Boys as young as six protested alongside their outraged fathers, who said the “drug and rape situation”, especially in Kwanokuthule outside Plettenberg Bay, was out of control.
“This day will be written in the history books of Plettenberg Bay,” Booysen said in his address to the crowd.
“Rape is escalating at an alarming rate in our communities. I call upon all male citizens of this town to join hands with the municipality and establish male structures in all wards. These structures will be established to educate us about the wrongs we intentionally and unintentionally do.”
The memorandum was later handed over to Lugelo at the Plettenberg Bay police station by the mayor’s manager, Siphiwe Dladla.
Protester Melford Mazantsana believed the march would go a long way towards raising awareness about sexual offences.
“We are all men here today, and what our presence shows is that real men are against rape and do not rape. This will send a message to these criminals that we will stand up against them.”
Xola Xasa said: “We are sick of this in our communities.”