By Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni
Bubi chief’s representative, Bowen Sibanda speaks out against gender-based violence
Umuzi we Ndebele wakhiwa nge nduku, so goes the old Ndebele adage. Loosely translated, this statement encourages men to use violence against their wives and children as a way of maintaining order or disciplining the family. The chief’s right hand man Bowen Sibanda says this commonly held belief has led to the high incidence of violence against women and children in Bubi District.
“We do not want such archaic and wicked belief systems to run our society any more. We want families that thrive in peace, communication and love; because where there is love, there is no violence. I always say to the men: ‘When you say, ithambo lethambo lami, inyama yenyama yami,’ (bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh), you should mean what you say because it doesn’t make sense to hurt the one you love. If you truly love your wife as you love yourself, then there’s no room for violence in your marriage,” he said.
Sibanda presides over the traditional court and handles all the cases that are brought to the chief’s court by villagers, where he passes judgement on behalf of the chief. He says that during the community dialogues that are held in the community he teaches both young people and adults to desist from violence, and women to learn to defend themselves and report all forms of violence to the chief’s court and to the police station.
He added that during the past 18 months, he has noticed a decline in the number of cases involving domestic violence in Bubi – a positive change that shows the locals are now putting into practice what they learn from the community dialogues.