We cannot continue to hide under the old culture of silence

by Bishop José Luis IMC

Saturday 1 July 2017 saw the first march against Gender Based Violence organized by the Justice & Peace commission of the diocese of Manzini. It was the first one because we plan to have similar ones in other parts of the country later this year. 

It has held at Hlatikulu and involved the parishes of Christ the King (Hlatikulu) and Sacred Heart (Nhlangano) and had the presence of Mr I. M. Magagula, the National Commissioner of the Royal Swaziland Police Service as a sign of the partnership between the Police and the Catholic Church in the fight against gender abuse. 

We gathered at Esakeni at 09.00 am from where we marched, led by the Police band and majorettes from the school, for about 3 km up the mountain to Hlatikulu. While walking someone told me: “this road is marked by blood… just the other day someone was killed and the body left by the road as if it had been hit by a car”

After marching in town we walked to the parish where the main event would be held.

I had been asked to open with a short reflection and prayer. I chose three images:

  • We have been created in God’s image and violence against anyone being a man or a woman, an adult or a child, is violence against God;
  • God’s question to Cain after he had killed Abel: “Where is your brother?” which is the same question we are being asked today;
  • Jesus preaching at the beginning of his ministry: Repent and believe… 

In his address, Mr Maduduza Zwane, Interim Mayor of Hlatikulu Town Council said:

It is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, one of the least prosecuted crimes, and one of the greatest threats to lasting peace and development in Swaziland and the entire world.

The Hlatikulu Town council has been inundated with gross violations of respect for human life.  Females have been found dead in the forests in Hlatikulu. People have been murdered not far from our esteemed mission. Cases of abuse are endless. 

As a town, we are delighted that you have publicly come forward to say No to these appalling crimes.

In his speech, the National Commissioner of the Royal Swaziland Police Service underlined how pleased and delighted he was at having been invited to participate at this event to raise awareness of the reality of gender based violence. He at a more opportune time when the phenomenon is escalating instead of going down. 

It is encouraging that the Catholic Church has seen it fit that this kind of campaign so that we may together fight the scourge with all the weapons at our dispose. It is also pleasing to know that this is not going to be the first and the last of this initiatives. I am told similar campaigns will be staged across the country. That is applaudable. If we had partners like the church, partnering with us, talking with one voice with us that gender violence is not the answer. 

We cannot continue to hide until the old culture of silence… the culture of swiping issues under the carpet is long gone. Expose criminals of this crime so that the law may take its course. If you keep silent you are condoning the problem, you are not helping yourselves… Have the courage to expose people who commit such crimes.

Once more we thank the Catholic Church for joining hands with us in this war. We will win this war.

Download remarks by the Interim Mayor (Maduduza Zwane) of Hlatikulu Town Council
by clicking HERE

Click on the photo below for photos of the event