Manana sen­tence in­sults women

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - OPINION -

In 1989, the ed­i­tor of Pri­vate Eye mag­a­zine, Ian His­lop, re­acted to los­ing a li­bel case brought by the wife of the no­to­ri­ous “York­shire Rip­per” by say­ing: “If that’s jus­tice, I’m a ba­nana …” Long af­ter the mer­its of that case have been for­got­ten, that say­ing is still around – and still sig­ni­fies a mis­car­riage of jus­tice.

Af­ter what hap­pened to for­mer deputy min­is­ter Mduduzi Manana in court this week, there have been sim­i­lar ex­pres­sions of dis­gust.

Many peo­ple be­lieve Manana got away with the prover­bial slap on the wrist af­ter be­ing con­victed of three counts of as­sault with in­tent to do griev­ous bod­ily harm. The beat­ings of women out­side a night­club in Four­ways reignited the de­bate about vi­o­lence against women and how it is treated by our so­ci­ety.

Manana was fined R100 000 (or 12 months’ jail) and or­dered to pay an ad­di­tional R26 000 in com­pen­sa­tion to his three vic­tims.

It was quickly pointed out that Manana still earns R86 000 a month as a back-bench ANC MP – he was nei­ther ex­pelled from the party, nor par­lia­ment af­ter the in­ci­dent – so the fine will mean lit­tle to him, ma­te­ri­ally.

And ma­te­ri­ally, the woman-beater does not ap­pear to want for much, judg­ing by his flaunt­ing of his ex­pen­sive fash­ion tastes dur­ing his court ap­pear­ances.

The real­ity re­mains that a high-pro­file man has been al­lowed his free­dom af­ter bru­tally as­sault­ing women and, in the process, an old stereo­type – that women are less im­por­tant than men and, there­fore, less de­serv­ing of pro­tec­tion – has been per­pet­u­ated.

All of this at a time when vi­o­lence against women, in all its hor­ri­ble man­i­fes­ta­tions, ap­pears to be in­creas­ing.

The Manana sen­tence may not quite be a trop­i­cal fruit, but it cer­tainly was a missed op­por­tu­nity to send a mes­sage to men that women are not punch bags.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.