“Moms Demand Action: End Gun violence and Gender based violence” was the theme for a march organised by the women’s ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Church(AME) in Gqeberha (PE) today.
The march processioned from FC James Chapel opposite Spar Mall, KwaZakhele to KwaZakhele Police Station where a memorandum was handed over to SAPS officers.
According to the organisers, the main objective of the march was to seek the start of a working partnership including local NGOs such as Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation and Sisonke Gender Justice, faith-based organisations, and SAPS to suppress gun abuse of women and children. They also marched to urge the SAPS to take more action against gender-based violence and femicide.
The event started with prayer from the FC James Chapel building and introductory speeches by some of the stakeholders.
Some of the NPOs and governmental organisations that partnered with the movement were also represented. Mihlali, a representative of the Uyinenene Mrwetyana Foundation spoke about the importance of cooperation between SAPS and the community. She encouraged the police the police to treat each member of the community with the outmost respect and empathy.
One of the speakers mentioned that KwaZakhele is ranked as the third most dangerous township in SA. According to www.capetownetc.com South Africa is ranked the fifth most dangerous country in the world. With such gruesome statistics the women’s ministry believe it is vital for them, as mothers, to take a stand.
“Our church is a connectional church spanning all over the world, with its headquarters in the USA. This is where everything started, when members of the church were gunned down whilst in worship. So out of that tragedy, a grassroots movement known as Moms Demand Action was formed with the sole purpose of advocating and fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence and this was then aligned with our constitutional mandate as the Women’s Missionary Society of the AME Church, to encourage advocacy for improving the quality of life of our members, and therefore our communities. However, the recent spate of robberies at church and killings moved us to action as we saw that we can no longer distance ourselves from the social ills in our immediate communities”, said Noludwe Qwabe.
Joe August, a certified firearm trainer, spoke about the importance of self-protection and discipline. He said guns are not the problem in our society, but the people that handle guns. He encouraged community members to report any form of violence. He said if they do not receive the service they are hoping for at the police station, they can always reach out to IPID offices.
The memorandum was then handed over and the members of SAPS vowed to take into heart everything that has been requested and promised to do all that is within their capabilities to make sure all concerns raised.
SAPS officers who accepted the march organisers’ memorandum, vowed to take to heart everything that was requested and to do all that is within their capabilities to make sure all concerns raised are addressed.
The march ended with a candlelight ceremony to commemorate all those who lost their lives through gun and gender-based violence.
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