To the Uyinenes of this Nation: We Salute You!

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We Will Speak Out South Africa salutes all those women, young and old, who have said NO. Who says NO. Who will say NO. Those who will be ignored, those who will be brutalised, and those who will die for it.

We remember Uyinene Mwretyana, Anene Booysen, Karabo Mokoena, Siam Lee, Dr Thandi Ndlovu, Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels, Reeva Steenkamp, Fezekile Kuzwayo.

Students, schoolgirls, doctors, politicians, businesswomen, athletes, models, little girls, school principals, activists – many women of faith, women who believe/d that not all men are trash…

We stand with you, and with all those who have not made the headlines, with all those whose lives have been destroyed, maimed, families who are left heartbroken, bereft.

WE ARE YOU.

We say NO.

We will not be silent.

Where are your killers, abusers, rapists?

We will say their names; we will not make excuses for them, the Bulelani Manyakamas, Alex Molokwanes, Sandile Mantsoes, Johannes Kanas, Philani Ntulis, Jacob Zumas, Nicholas Ninows, Oscar Pistoriuses, Deon Harmses, Bushiris: officials of the State, protectors of the law, business leaders, faith leaders, sportsmen, celebrities, ordinary men …

No. More. Silence.

This is not a new story. We hear of the rape of Tamar by Amnon her brother, both children of God's chosen King David, who does nothing; and she is doomed to live out her days 'a desolate woman' (lucky to be alive, some might say…). Does God then condone such acts?

We say NO. As WWSOSA we lament with Tamar, with Queen Vashti, the nameless sex slave cut into ten pieces after being gang-raped to death; with Uyinene. We stand with Jesus when he challenged the men who stoned the woman 'caught in adultery'. We stand with the Marys who stood and wept with Jesus at the cross.

We stand with the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel who warned of the temptation to say "peace, peace when there is no peace", who "build a flimsy wall and then whitewash it".

President Ramaphosa, we are tired of promises from political leaders that build flimsy walls saying they are dealing with the epidemic...

We are thrilled that we have been consulted to help shape the new National Strategic Plan on GBV and Femicide. As women, and women of faith, we are tired of living with the nagging fear #WillIBeNext?

We ask only one thing, Mr President and your Presidential Steering Team: no more whitewash. Please.

We as WWSOSA are a coalition working to equip the faith sector to 'clean up our act' and to stand up, speak out and say NO to sexual and gender-based violence.

We commit ourselves to work with you, with all those standing up today - Let us not just speak out now, in our grief and horror at a beautiful student's horrific death.

Let us hold one another to account- to act, to live, to say YES to be the change we dream of, every day of the year.

24/7.

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