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|CGE Responds to Contralesa’s Statement in the Eastern Cape|
The CGE was present at the public hearings on the re-introduced Traditional Courts Bill in Mthatha on Tuesday 24th April and was pleased with the attendance.
However, the sentiments expressed by the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa’s (CONTRALESA) provincial secretary Mr Nkosi Xolile Ndevu in Mthatha during this provincial hearing is of serious concern to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). We consider the views expressed by Mr Ndevu as a callous disregard for the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and indicative of blatant disregard to respecting the rights of fellow citizens.
Commendably, the CGE was encouraged with the conciliatory approach adopted by AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo who called for traditional leaders like himself to realise that no person is above the law and to respect the constitutional rights of others, especially their subjects. According to the King “traditional leaders should be impartial and fair, ensure basic human rights were observed and women were protected, including those accused of witchcraft.” According to his statement AbaThembu King Dalindyebo displays an attitude that promotes the values of an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and the freedom of every citizen to exercise their all their rights as human beings.
The sentiments and values of the AmaThembu King is in contrast with those expressed by Mr Ndevu since the latter displays a deep-rooted prejudice and intolerance towards marginalised and vulnerable groups; including the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and intersexed people (LGBTI) of South Africa. It is evident that Mr Ndevu has not embraced the values espoused in the South African Constitution and does not understand that all customary practices must be applied in a manner which is in harmony with the constitution. Against this background the CGE is confident that it is taking the correct approach by recommending the unconditional withdrawal of the Traditional Courts Bill. The CGE is of the firm belief that this Bill will allow for discrimination and the violation of human rights to prosper because of the uncompromising, patriarchal and faulted notion of traditional leaders such as Mr Ndevu where the belief is that the Traditional Courts Bill will endorse their unlawful intentions. The Traditional Courts Bill is an impractical proposal that will cause untold misery, allow for human rights abuses and continue to support the high level of gender inequality which plagues deep rural communities because such leaders such as Mr Ndevu abound. Therefore, the expressions of Mr Ndevu must sound an alarm bell that alerts us to the fact that if the Traditional Courts Bill is promulgated then it is going to be a poignant day for South Africa. Such a development is not commensurate with a constitutional democracy because it will result in the empowerment of traditional leaders to the detriment of vulnerable groups such as rural women and the LGBTI people that will fall under the jurisdiction of traditional courts.
Issued by: Commission for Gender Equality
Tel: 021 426 4080
Date: 02 May 2010
Enquiries: Adv. Kamraj Anirudhra
The Commission for Gender Equality is established in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in order to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality