Womxn in the EFFSC name and shame alleged sexual predator

The Wits Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) is calling for the EFF and EFFSC structures to stand in solidarity for justice for *womxn, both inside and outside political spaces. They are also calling for the party to take action against members who have allegedly attacked womxn comrades.

The womxn of the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) have opened up a case against an alleged sexual predator at the Hillbrow Police Station. They have also taken the matter up within their structures to the secretary general of all national structures.

The student organisation released its statement on Monday after a womxn who is part of the Wits EFFSC was allegedly recently attacked by one of its members from another branch.

The alleged offender has been named on social media by some of the party’s most prominent members. They have also criticised the head of their organisation for being friends with the alleged offender.

Other womxn have also come forward on social media with claims that the offender has assaulted them as well.

Deputy chairperson of the Wits EFFSC, Othandwayo Mgqoboka told The Daily Vox that they had decided to go public with the offender’s name because of a lack of trust in the criminal justice system. “The justice system as an institution has always failed black womxn,” she said.

Mgqoboka said the naming and shaming was a necessary step to warn others who had encountered him – especially black womxn – of the violence that he has perpetuated. She also said the law has not always been on the side of black womxn. “It is important that there is a social justice as well as the criminal justice,” Mgqoboka said.

The tactic of naming and shaming became popular with the #RUReferenceList at the university currently known as Rhodes (UCKAR) when a list of men who had allegedly raped women was circulated on social media. The list was published as a demand for justice and a plea for action to be taken against offenders.

In South Africa, naming and shaming is considered defamation and punishable by law. Defamation occurs when a defamatory statement is published about another living person. An allegation is defamatory if it lowers a person’s standing in the eyes of “right-thinking people”, namely those who follow the values that underpin South Africa’s Bill of Rights.

Professor in the Department of Private Law at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Dr Helen Scott told The Daily Vox these are “very serious allegations and they’re highly defamatory.” Ordinarily, if a defamatory statement is made the accuser has to prove it is true in order to escape liability.

In theory, the person who wrote the original post and everyone who shared it do not enjoy protection under the law, and would be liable for defamation, Scott said. However, this is unlikely as policing social media is often difficult.

According to the statement, this is not an isolated event. “In our own branch, multiple womxn have been the victims of physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse at the hands of people we have come to know as our comrades,” the statement read.

The womxn of the EFF said they had failed to garner support from their male comrades against violence on womxn’s bodies.

In the statement, womxn in the Wits EFFSC also separated themselves from patriarchs in the party and condemned male comrades who defend abusers, failing to fight masculine and patriarchal spaces.

“We as womxn of this branch, separate ourselves from the patriarchs of this branch and all other patriarchs who have abused, raped, and killed womxn,” it said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comment from the EFFSC.

*The term “womxn” is used intentionally to be inclusive of all femme identifying bodies, not just cisgendered women.

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