16 February 2021
Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre media statement: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga should properly apologise for, and withdraw, her harmful remarks about rape
Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) are deeply troubled by the remarks on gender-based violence which Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga made while visiting a school in Pretoria this week. We believe that what the Minister said was reckless and harmful, and while we acknowledge that there is learning and unlearning for all of us to do, the standard for our country’s leaders must be higher.
On Monday 15 February, Newzroom Afrika posted a video of Minister Motshekga, while encouraging learners to stay in school, making remarks that insinuate that young people need to stay in school to not become rapists. When learners expressed their shock at what she said (which can be heard in the video), she then added: “I thought they [the rapists] need to be a bit civilised to do certain things.”
Minister Motshekga’s statements contribute to larger societal myths about who can rape and who can be raped in South Africa (recommended reading: Phumla Gqola, Kate Harding, Palesa Lebitse). The underlying assumption is that rapists are “monsters”, and that these monsters are working class, uneducated people. This suggests that only poor people rape – a suggestion that is not only classist but also perpetuates anti-black racism.
Minister Motshekga should properly apologise for, and withdraw, her harmful remarks. We call on Minister Motshekga to commit to participating in a gender sensitivity programme.
There is still a long and hard journey to creating a South Africa where womxn feel free. In her statement in response to the anger over her remarks, Minister Motshekga argues that she understands that rape is about power, and that is why the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is ensuring that the “boy child” is educated on these issues. We agree that to transform our society we need to transform our education and how all children are taught about gender – it is here where societal norms and cultures are forged. Minister Motshekga is the person ultimately responsible for our education system and her role and understanding is integral in shaping the DBE’s response to gender-based violence in our country.
Note to editors: If quoting directly from this statement, please quote Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC).