On 19 and 20 October 2022, the MEJCON-SA Mpumalanga Lowveld region hosted workshops on the topic of gender-based violence and sexual harassment. The workshops were held in a village called Steenbok which is surrounded by sugar cane fields and close to the Nkomazi anthracite mine.
The workshops were presented by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and were conducted in a participatory manner where everyone was encouraged to share their experiences and ideas. While most participants spoke in SiSwati, the workshops were conducted across a number of languages to accommodate everyone.
A number of MEJCON-SA leaders attended the workshops including Ms Xolisile Themba (Chairperson of the Lowveld region), Ernest Mahlalela (treasurer and member of the National Steering Committee), Margaret Molomo (National Chairperson) and Israel Mosala (deputy secretary from Meadowlands, Gauteng).
Thami Nkosi and Danjelle Midgley from the Activist Support and Training Programme at the Centre for Environmental Rights also attended and facilitated the workshops.
Ernest Mahlalela, who is from the nearby Madadeni village and who assists Xolisile Themba in her role as Lowveld MEJCON-SA chair said: “The workshops were fantastic. We did not have enough time to satisfy all the needs of the community but we enjoyed the presentations. We thank CER, MEJCON-SA and the facilitators from CSVR who assisted in educating our community on the issue of gender-based violence. It helps us so much. We still need more training workshops – on Social and Labour Plan in mining, and on compensation that our community is owed by the mine for relocation of homesteads and removal of graves.”
During the workshops, participants explored power dynamics between victims and perpetrators, role-played different stereotypes and spoke about tools to address the scourge of gender-based violence in their communities.
The MEJCON-SA leadership team also conducted a site visit to Madadeni where the Nkomazi anthracite mine operates.