How free are we?

4 04 2008

 by Nomawethu Solwandle

If you keep up with what is happening in the media then there is no doubt that you would have probably seen the story about the girl who was humiliated at a taxi rank because she was wearing a mini skirt. I was both shocked and disgusted to see that people still thuoght like those men in that taxi rank, even in the new South Africa. I thought that narrow mindedness was left behind. I naively thought that South Africa was one of those countries that had come a long way and that we could look foward to an even brighter future, moving foward with the spirit of ubuntu where we worked together as a country.

It is sad that just a hand full of people can spoil it for everyone because am pretty sure that there are more South Africans with positive minds, that want to move foward and grow both politically and socially, but how can we move foward if such people still exist in our societies?

I always though that public spaces like taxi ranks were one of those places where one would feel safe, guess i was wrong. I mean I am from a township and I feel totally safe at the taxi ranks I go to. You might get those odd of hoofs and whistles or “aw baby awusemhle kangaka” (Oh baby you are so beautiful) but I mean those are things you can still ignore or tell those people where to get off, but to actually be humiliated in public like that must have been devastating .

On a  programme called “Youth Expression” on SABC 1 this week, they raised this issue about girls wearing mini skirts.  Obviously relating the issue to what the media had already put foward. South African youth were allowed to bring their views foward on the issue. One girl commented and said that maybe South Africa needs to have more police patroling in public areas such as taxi ranks. I agree with this to some extent. At the same time we can not always blame other people’s bad behaviour on the police force. I am not saying the police force is perfect, they have their issues but that is a totally different story and that is not what I would like to get into now because it is another issue on its own. We as South Africans need to be disciplined in our own right before we can have other people looking out for us. We may have more of the police force protecting us but it is of no use if we do not have values and self discipline.

What those men did at that taxi rank was disgusting and they need to be severely punished for their actions. We can wear whatever we want, when we want and most importanatly where we want. South Africa is a free country, is it not? Our former president utata uRolihlahla Nelson Mandela declared South Africa a free country in 1994. If we as South Africans not respect what he worked and fought so hard for, then that means that his trial of 27 years in Robben Island was in vain.