Earlier this year, the Minerals Council South Africa launched a campaign to address sexual harassment and gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa’s mines, the mining host communities as well as the labour-sending communities.

Exxaro is actively involved in supporting this campaign and will be finding ways to continue driving this initiative both within their organisation as well as the communities in which they operate.

While there are various definitions of GBV, in essence, it is violence directed to a person as a result of their gender.

This results in unequal power relations that can take various forms such as physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse, threats, coercion, and deprivation of an economic or educational nature. GBV affects both men and women, although women and children are the most victimised groups.

Gender-based violence in South Africa

“We have seen an increase in cases of GBV and crimes against women and children as South Africa eases its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions,” said Exxaro’s Matla BU Manager Musa Mabasa.

It’s also important to note that GBV has been a problem in South Africa long before lockdown started. It impacts day-to-day living through its entrenchments in institutions, traditions, and cultures in South Africa.

The pandemic has merely highlighted issues plaguing South Africa, with our very own president, Cyril Ramaphosa, referring to GBV as South Africa’s “second pandemic”.

The mining industry is dominated by males across all levels. Therefore, all industry stakeholders have a responsibility to play in addressing GBV.

The men of Exxaro’s Matla mine have made a concerted effort to share in society’s responsibility to make sure women and children feel safe, secure, respected, and valued. They have messages to share to encourage their communities to join Exxaro in their call for zero-tolerance to GBV.

“It’s very sad to see our mothers and sisters being killed by the same people that are supposed to protect them. Violence is not a solution. Let us stand up and stop the violence,” said Andisa Mdletshe from Phlexi Foam.

Dumisani Mdluli, a Risk Department representative, added to this, saying; “We need to change our attitude as men; men need help. I encourage all men to cry out for help and not to hide their feelings. Let us change the status quo of ‘Men don’t cry’ – cry if you must because if you don’t, you end up resorting to violence.”

With a powerful message, Ntando Ntuli, who handles learner admin in the Supply Chain department, affirmed his commitment to fighting GBV.

“I firmly stand against any form of violence. Our mothers, sisters, even our kids no longer feel safe around us, and we are expected to be the ones protecting them. We, as men, must stand strong together to fight against GBV.”

“We are deeply concerned about the crisis of GBV. Women form the bedrock of our communities and play an important part in providing a safe, sustainable future for future generations.

“We must do our part in not only transforming our workplace but also in eradicating these challenges within South Africa’s culture of violence,” concluded Musa Mabasa.