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South African mineworkers’ union launches campaign against gender-based violence


When launching 16 days of activism against the abuse of women and children, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) remembered Nombuso Dube, a KwaZulu Natal provincial treasurer of the union’s women structure, and her mother, Mthokozile Dube, who were shot dead in October. 

According to police investigations, the two women were shot seven times each. The accused is in police custody pending a bail application. This and several other cases of the brutal murder of women are the focus of the campaign launched by 50 women from the national NUM women’s structure in Johannesburg on 19 November. 

Participants at the meeting, which was attended by other unions and a representative from the Commission for Gender Equality, lit candles and observed moments of silence for women who had been murdered. They want effective law enforcement that brings justice.

With over 12 women in every 100,000 killed, South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries for women in the world. As an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, the NUM is taking part in the campaign to end violence and harassment against women at the workplace and in the union.

The NUM pledge signed at the meeting condemns harassment of and discrimination against women at the workplace, sexual violence against women and children, rape, abuse and murder, domestic violence, and discrimination against people affected and living with HIV and AIDS. The NUM will work with communities and civil society organizations to achieve the campaign aims.

The union aims to campaign for change in social attitudes towards violence, and to act against the perpetrators. The  mineworkers’ union will also provide support to the affected women and children. As violence is often linked to substance abuse, the campaign is calling for healthier and safer communities and workplaces.

Says Lydia Nkopane, the NUM national women structure chairperson:

“What is happening in our workplaces, communities and homes is painful. Women sometimes disguise bruises with make-up to conceal beatings when they report for work. They also face sexual harassment and precarious working conditions at the workplaces. Further, young women and children are being abused and murdered daily.”

Further, she said social labour plans, in which mining rights applicants are required to carry out programmes that benefit mineworkers and communities, must help women living in mining communities as poverty makes them vulnerable to abuse.


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