Thousands of men heeded the call to march in Pretoria in opposition to violence against women and children.

Men started gathering in the Pretoria city centre from early Tuesday morning, to march against gender based violence.  The men represented all sectors of society, including the religious sector.

“My name is Obeidel Abodja and I represent the Council of Muslim Theologians. As religious leaders I think it is imperative that we are present today to voice our concerns against abuse and gender violence,” says Abodja.

The Commission for Gender Equality’s Javu Baloyi was also there.

“This has gone on too far. Women cannot continue to live under the shadows of us men as rapists and perpetrators and as abusers because it is not women who abuse themselves, it’s us men. It’s an indictment on us men.”

Even South Africa’s tax man took to the streets.

SARS Acting Commissioner, Mark Kingon, and more than a 100 SARS employees took part.

“It’s an important issue for our society that we are seen to be men standing up against women and child abuse,” says Kingon.

Not everybody was, however, in favour of the march

Community member, Daniel Struwig, took the day off work to attend the march.

“Women and children are the backbone of our society. I grew up in a home where my mother and sister were abused by my father verbally and physically. He has since passed on but this is a worthy cause because women are the backbone of our nation and we have to love and support them not just one day but 365 24/7.”

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, was also there. He conceded that some rotten apples in the police service do not handle cases of violence against women and children correctly.

“It’s an epitome of the government and this department that women and children must be safe. So when they come to the police station we must understand they are not just visiting there, it’s because there is pressure. If you sent them back home to negotiate, next time she might not come back because she is dead. It’s not your duty as SAPS to send woman back to negotiate, yours is to arrest the perpetrator.”

Acting Director General of the Government’s Communication and Information System (GCIS), Pumla Williams, organised the march.

“All of us acknowledge we have a crisis in this country with the abuse of women and children. These are members of our society that are also protected by our constitution. So we are raising an awareness, particularly to say, if you are a man out there who is battling with a relationship, you can get help. We are saying any woman who is out there that is in a relationship that is abusive that doesn’t know whether there is a way out, we are hoping this awareness will show a way out.”

Hundreds of men took a pledge once they arrived at the Union Buildings. They also lit a torch of hope.

Not everybody was, however, in favour of the march.

The Total Shutdown Movement, standing on the side lines, said they were boycotting the march.

Ziggie Skhosana of the movement believes the march was about grand-standing.

“We’re not marching with them because they are not for us they are for themselves and the glory.” The Total Shutdown Movement plans to hold marches in all nine provinces on 1 August.

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