Sphamandla Gumede believes that charity begins at home and this outlook saw him celebrating Women’s Day differently this year. He is currently based in Empangeni, but celebrated the occasion here in Vryheid. The 33-year-old undertook a 56km run from Paulpietersburg to Vryheid in a bid to raise awareness about gender-based violence (GBV) and child abuse.
“This is a subject that is very close to my heart. I therefore thought that I needed a creative way to raise awareness. This campaign is aimed at both perpetrators and victims of these crimes. I want to encourage victims to report crimes, while calling on fellow men who are behind these crimes to cease and protect our women and children. I have never done anything like this before and I know I will be punishing my body, but it is for a good cause and I believe it will be worth every drop of sweat.”
Sphamandla is a man who does not condone harassment and says it is time to stop now, as men need to start prioritising women. He went on to say that the world is faced with the ‘second pandemic’, which is GBV, and there must be strategies to help the victims affected by this scourge. “Local leaders must not turn a blind eye to women. It is rare that women are helped the same way as men; you will find that when a man needs funding for something like soccer, it will only take a few days to finalise the deal, but when it comes to women-related issues, it takes months and sometimes never for them to get funding or sponsors. Women are the majority in the country and also the majority when it comes to voting.”
Sphamandla says, “We need to put aside politics in this GBV pandemic. This issue needs everyone to be united as Zululand people, so let us develop women to be better versions of themselves. Nowadays, women and girls cannot trust their own uncles, fathers or men in general. It’s time we go back to our roots as men.” Sphamandla urges women to report any cases of assault or harassment.
He would like to thank everyone who supported him: two chiefs (Chief Mdlalose and Nkosi), his sponsor (University of Zululand) and Deputy Mayor Mam Mavis Kunene, who mentioned that Sphamandla has started a good initiative and that women must unite, support and be 100% behind him.
Sphamandla is also working on a project to donate sanitary towels to schools; he has donated towards Inkanyiso Special School and another school in Hlobane.