'Respect, protect women and children'
7 December 2012
As the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign draws near its close, Mbhazima Thomas Maluleke (60), a former teacher serving a 14-year jail term for rape, has called on South Africa's men to respect, love and protect women and children, writes Edwin Tshivhidzo.
Maluleke, who was a teacher for 27 years, was convicted of raping his cousin in July 2005. At the time of the incident, the victim was 15 years old.
He is serving his jail term at the Makhado Correctional Centre in Limpopo province.
Although he could not say what drove him to commit the crime, Maluleke's wish is to be given a chance to meet with his extended family to ask for forgiveness.
"I want to apologise, ask for forgiveness and make peace with her," he said.
Maluleke told SAnews that this was his fourth year behind bars and that he deeply regretted what he had done. Ashamed of his crime, Maluleke said he also felt sorry for the shame it brought on his family and community.
Asked if he had tried to contact his family to apologise, he said he had sent a delegation to try to apologise, but that the attempt had proved futile. However, he intends to try again.
"I want her to trust me again. I am ashamed of what I have done to her. I want her to know that even when I am released, I won't hurt her again," he said.
Since his incarceration, he has been put on various programmes which include anger management and sex offender management.
"The programmes have helped me a lot, I'm now a changed person and I believe that once released, I will not commit crime again," Maluleke said.
Every year during the 16 Days campaign, government, civil society organisations and the business sector work together to strengthen the impact of the campaign.
Communities are encouraged to report perpetrators of violence directed at women and children, and victims are encouraged to speak up.
The campaign is an international movement which takes place every year from 25 November - which is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - to 10 December, International Human Rights Day.