On the 16th November 2019, I had what you may refer to as a life-threatening encounter. The time to be exact was 17:45 pm and the sun was still beaming. I was walking home gracefully, until a car pulled up next to me. The man inside the vehicle stopped his vehicle and said “ngena” which loosely means get inside.
I responded by thanking him and refused his offer immediately. Little did I know that refusing to enter his vehicle would erupt more problems for me. The gentleman, well this “destructive man” did not take heed to my refusal to enter his vehicle. On a one- way road he abruptly reversed his vehicle to consistently pressure me to enter his vehicle. The road became very narrow and there was no way for me to walk.
He stopped to park his vehicle, got out headed my direction leaving behind his friend “ another destructive man” cheering him on to come towards me. I kept on walking, he grabbed my arm and I managed to walk very quickly away from him. As I was walking away from him, I looked back to see him running towards me. I panicked and started running away from him too. As I was running, I began to realise that he might catch me.
I stopped to pull out my pepper spray and I sprayed him. He screamed and said, “why do you have to be like this?”. I was still in so much shock that as he was walking away, I turned into the direction I had sprayed the pepper spray that some got inside my right eye. I quickly dialled my mothers’ numbers for her be find me blind, dizzy and emotional on the side of the road. I walked away from the scene in that terrible state to almost being ran over, just to get away from that “destructive man” who drove off with his friend.
For a moment there, I instantly remembered the Gender-based violence attacks and femicide challenge that we have in South Africa. I began to reflect on the angels lost to GBV and Femicide in 2019. To mention a few Uyinene Mrwetyana, Natasha Conabeer,Leighandre Jegels, Precious Ramabulana ,Gomolemo Legae and there are many more.
I am appalled by the oppressive system of patriarchy in South Africa, the culture of entitlement that “some men” have over women. The oppressive nature that some men have when it comes to women. The inability for some men to comprehend that women cannot defend themselves physically against them.
The system of patriarchy has placed women in a position to walk around carrying pepper spray or any tools to defend themselves against men. Women walk around in what seems to be a beautiful country with so much fear in their hearts. At any given moment, “some men” will feel entitled to a body not belonging to them and will refuse to accept rejection from women.
Patriarchy in South Africa has been socially accepted and overlooked at the same time. By socially accepted I am simply referring to some of the bearers of Patriarchy refuse to call each other out. Some men would rather leave their friends drunk or sober to make women feel uncomfortable in their presence. Some men would rather
overlook distasteful behaviour by their friends’ and I am not even talking about the community.
To curb patriarchy in South Africa and Gender-based violence or Femicide is not the duty of President Ramaphosa alone. It is for South Africans to be in solidarity and understanding the outrageous effect that these factors have left in our communities. It is for us as South Africans to unite in our communities and do away with silence. The act of turning a blind eye to wrongful acts needs to come to an end.
I am still waiting for a brutally honest conversation with the man himself. When will the man himself acknowledge that women don’t belong to him? Again, when will some men come to terms that for us as South Africa to curb GBV and Femicide is for harmful acts or advances by some men to “STOP”. “NO” means no, we are not slaves to your lustful desires. Stop harming us.
For a moment there the life-threatening encounter I experienced gave life to the hashtag #AMINEXT? Pepper spray came in handy for now, however for how long?
The year of 2019 South Africa as nation lost many innocent souls. Many grieving families, an unexpected arrival of angels in heaven and more predators walking around freely.
Lastly, I am not ignorant to categorise men, it is not all men. However, the handful who don’t harm us protect us, and tell your friends to stop harming us! We are tired of living in fear.
Written by Phiwe Mncwabe
An Unapologetic Afrikan Feminist and storyteller @Phiwe_Mncwabe_ on Twitter
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."